OUTSIDE SAN DIEGO—Shane Murphy, who gained fame as a wingsuit parachutist from mountaintops, died Aug. 7 in the French Alps not long after marking his 1,000th jump, according to news reports and his obituary.
Murphy, a Ramona High School graduate, had just turned 30 on Aug. 3.
According to French press reports, Murphy and a companion leaped in their flying-squirrel-type outfits near Chamonix, a popular locale for the extreme sports—and scene of earlier deaths.
Chamonet.com reported: “This is the first fatal accident since Chamonix banned wingsuit base jumps following a fatal jump off the Brevent.”
According to a local French site:
Shane set off with a fellow wingsuit base jumper for the Tête de Croix de Fer, part of the Chaine des Fiz. However on arrival Shane had not made it back to the landing spot. Reported as missing, the Chamonix mountain rescue were called to assist in the search for his body and at 14:30, Shane Murphy was found at the bottom of Les Arcets, Sallanches.
Another report said: “One arrived at the landing site and gave the alarm immediately. Despite rescue efforts and search by the helicopter platoon of police mountain in Chamonix, man could not be found Tuesday [Aug. 7]” but Murphy’s body was recovered Aug. 8.
A U-T San Diego obituary said Murphy—the son of Nancy Taylor of Ramona and Dan Murphy of Ohio—was a licensed helicopter pilot, flight instructor, sky diving instructor and internationally ranked BASE jumper.
BASE means parachutists who jump from buildings, antennas, spans and earth.
“Raised on a horse ranch, Shane loved all animals and most recently his dog, Bella. He relished every opportunity for adventure here and abroad and loved to share his inspiration for life and learning with others,” said his U-T obituary.
Plans for a celebration of life include a gathering at 5 p.m. Aug. 31 at Crown Point on Mission Bay. A memorial fund has been set up for education in science, technology and engineering.
According to blueskiesmag.com, Murphy died in the Fiz mountain range near Chamonix, France.
“Chamonix is a well-loved destination for extreme athletes of all kinds, including BASE jumpers,” the report said. “Shane was highly experienced but for some reason did not make it back to the landing zone. His body was recovered by mountain rescue service. The cause of the accident is not known or has not been released at this point.”
Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes featured wingsuiters and BASE jumping in 2009, and Murphy posted videos of his own jumps as well.