Tragic news out of Big Sur today as two BASE jumpers have gone missing after leaping off the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge. Both are presumed dead. In a sad twist of fate, it appears that both jumpers survived the plunge off the 280 foot bridge, only to drown after being pulled out into the Pacific Ocean by a strong wave.
One jumper, Mary "Katie" Connell, safely landed the jump sometime last Wednesday, as KSBW 8 reports, but was quickly swept out of Bixby Creek.
The as-of-yet unidentified companion with Connell was apparently a skilled Finnish BASE jump instructor, and was filming the entire ordeal from a helmet-mounted GoPro. Officials found the camera near the edge of the creek. When they reviewed the footage, it depicted the instructor leaping off Bixby Creek Bridge, and then discarding his helmet and parachute before diving in the water in what appeared to be an attempt to save Connell.
Monterey County Sheriff Steve Bernal said at a press conference yesterday that jumping off the bridge is not illegal, and commented on how the helmet footage shows Connell's landing.
"She lands right about the area where the Bixby Creek feeds into the ocean," Bernal explained.
It seems the Bixby Creek Bridge is a popular, if challenging, BASE jumping spot. One experienced BASE jumper, Liz Freeman, explained to KSBW 8 what makes it so tricky — noting the short jump with a small spot to land.
"So even if you successfully made it to a small landing area, and your canopy didn't, it could pull you back into the water," she explained. "They both knew what they were getting into its risky. Not being local, they didn't quite understand about the king tides, the surf, and the weather. It's always important to know your local conditions before you go out and adventure."
"They were amazing humans, beautiful happy people stoked on life," continued Freeman. "Sad things happen to good people I guess."