Utah newlywed Amber Marie Bellows fell to her death in front of her new husband Saturday when her parachute failed to open during a BASE jump. Bellows, of Salt Lake City, and her husband had married just two weeks before her death.
Bellows and her husband, Clayton Butler, climbed Mount Kinesava, which rises above the southwestern corner of the park at 7,276 feet, in order to jump from the mountain. At 4:00 p.m., Bellows, 28, took the first jump, but the parachute she was wearing did not open properly. Her husband noticed that there was a problem with her parachute and jumped after her in an attempt to rescue her, but he could not reach her. Amber Bellows fell approximately 2,000 feet.
Upon landing, Butler, 29, had to hike over two hours in order to reach park officials. By then, it was 6:30 p.m. and the sun had gone down. Because at that point Bellows was confirmed to be dead and the terrain in which she lay was remote and difficult, rescuers waited until the next day to take a rescue helicopter out. When they located her body, two rescuers from the National Parks Service were lowered to where her body lay. They lifted her into the helicopter and placed her inside of an ambulance at approximately 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Both Amber Bellows and her new husband were experienced BASE jumpers, and before falling to her death in front of him at Zion National Park in Utah, Bellows was regarded as a rising star within BASE jumping circles. BASE jumping is an extreme sport in which a person jumps into a free-fall from a fixed surface and then activates a parachute. BASE is an acronym for buildings, antennas, spans and earth.
The videographer and manager of Bellows, Joshua Lloyd, called both Bellows and Butler experienced and conscientious, saying her death was a “tragic accident.” He also stated that Bellows was one of the world’s best BASE jumpers. In hopes of furthering her career and becoming a professional BASE jumper, Lloyd was hired by Bellows and Butler to record their jumps, which numbered in the hundreds before the accident at Mount Kinesava.
Bellows was well known in the state’s skydiving community and was active with Skydive Ogden and Skydive Utah. When reached by the Deseret News and KSL on Sunday, representatives from both declined to talk because they were too upset.
Lloyd also stated that BASE jumpers are very aware that what they are doing is dangerous and potentially deadly, but they do it regardless.
BASE jumping is not allowed in Zion National Park. Bellow’s death is the first to occur at the park and the first BASE jumping incident to happen there, although according to Lloyd, hundreds of people BASE jump at Zion every year. A park spokesperson rejected that notion, saying that in his 11-year career, this is only the second BASE jumping incident to happen at the park. In addition, the area in which Mount Kinesava is located is not regularly maintained by the park and it is not recommended to visitors.
An investigation by Utah officials into the death of BASE jumper Amber Bellows, who fell to her death in front of her new husband, is underway.
By Jennifer Pfalz