Police: Base jumper fell 1,000 feet to his death

Deputies found 38-year-old Zachary Sommer dead after base jump attempt

Authorities say a Portland man died trying to base jump from this 1,000 foot tower near Silverton, July 17, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Authorities say a Portland man died trying to base jump from this 1,000 foot tower near Silverton, July 17, 2014. (KOIN 6)

SILVERTON, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A Portland man is dead after attempting a base jump from a tower in Marion County southeast of Silverton on Thursday.

Deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report from friends of 38-year-old Zachary Sommer of Portland that he had not returned from a base jump Monday morning.

Police said initial information indicated that Sommer called some friends Wednesday night to let them know that he was heading out for a base jump but never called them back.

Authorities say a Portland man died trying to base jump from this 1,000 foot tower near Silverton, July 17, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Authorities say a Portland man died trying to base jump from this 1,000 foot tower near Silverton, July 17, 2014. (KOIN 6)

Deputies responded to a tower southeast of Silverton where they found Sommer dead. Authorities described the tower as being approximately 1.000 feet high and located on private property. An exact location of the tower was not released.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy Steve Cooper, who is an experienced base jumper and known in the base jumping community, said he believes Sommer grabbed a lanyard as well as the handle to deploy his pilot parachute, which prevented the proper pull and deployment of the parachute.

Cooper described the lanyard as a part of the stash bag, which is used to package the parachute once the jump is completed.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office said base jumping is legal as long as it’s not done on private property.

“So unless somebody got permission from the owner, which wasn’t case, it would be illegal because of trespassing,” said Cooper.

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