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Illegal BASE jump ties up emergency services, train tracks

A man BASE jumping off Crown Point experienced an equipment malfunction but wasn't seriously injured Sunday, May 29.

Emergency responders, however, received a report at 8:30 a.m. of a jumper plummeting to the ground from Crown Point after his parachute failed to open properly and immediately sent emergency workers to the area, said Lt. Mary Lindstrand, spokeswoman for the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

The jumper was part of a group of BASE jumpers that jumped together off Crown Point. BASE is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (as in bridge), Earth, or cliff - all of which in theory are high enough to offer a very limited opportunity to briefly freefall and safely open a parachute, Linstrand said.

Because of the high potential for serious injury or death, and due to the public alarm of those witnessing such activity, BASE-jumping is prohibited in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The activity also is hazardous to rescuers who must negotiate steep, unstable and rugged terrain when jumpers have a mishap at Crown Point, she added.

On Sunday morning, deputies from the sheriff's office and volunteer firefighters from Multnomah County Rural Fire District 14 in Corbett responded to the base of Crown Point. The Multnomah County Search and Rescue Team also responded.

Because the search-and-rescue site was next to the main east-west rail line for the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad, all train operations along this line were stopped for the safety of the searchers. The shutdown affected rail traffic as far east as Kansas City and all along the West Coast for the duration of the incident.

Then, about 45 minutes after the initial report, an anonymous call came in confirming that one member of their BASE jumping party had an equipment malfunction. However, the person sustained very minor injuries and had already left the area not wanting any assistance.

'Because the caller had specific details of the overall incident, this new information was deemed credible and the mission suspended,' Lindstrand said.