BASE jumping accident near Silverton kills Portland man

BASE jumping accident near Silverton kills Portland man »Play Video
Zachary Sommer. Photo from his Facebook page.

NEAR SILVERTON, Ore. – A man was found dead Thursday morning southeast of Silverton after he attempted a BASE jump, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.

Friends of 38-year-old Zachary Sommer of Portland called deputies after Sommer did not return from a BASE jump, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Jeff Stutrud said.

He said Sommer had called his friends Wednesday night to tell them he was going to do a BASE jump. His friends became worried when he didn’t return and called the sheriff’s office at about 7 a.m.

Sommer was an experienced BASE jumper and sky diver, according to his friends. He made jumps all over the world.

Deputy Steve Cooper, who is an experienced base jumper, said he believed that Sommer grabbed a lanyard as well as the handle to deploy his pilot parachute, which prevented the proper deployment of the chute.

Stutrud declined to say where the tower that Sommer used to jump from was located. But he said the tower was about 1,000 feet high and was on private property.

He said there are no legal BASE jumping locations within Marion County. BASE jumping is only illegal in Oregon if it is on private property.

BASE jumpers typically leap from fixed objects like cliffs or tall man-made objects. BASE is acronym for Buildings, Antennas, Spans and Earth.

KATU's Hillary Lake contributed to this story.