Bridge Jumper Plummets to Death

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Thousands of spectators gather each
year in southern West Virginia to watch about 400 BASE jumpers
parachute off the second-highest bridge in the U-S.

The New River Gorge Bridge is 876 feet above the water.

There hadn't been a fatality at the Bridge Day festival since
1987 -- until today. The Fayette County sheriff says the victim was
an experienced jumper.

A photographer who witnessed the tragedy says it appears the
BASE jumper's chute didn't start to open until the man was about 25
feet above the water.

The sheriff says the man's body was recovered by rescue boats
and taken to a local funeral home. After that, jumping resumed.

Organizers say the man was one of nearly 400 people from 13
countries permitted to jump from the bridge this year.

The sport of BASE jumping involves parachuting off buildings,
antennae, spans and earth -- hence the term "BASE."