Base Jumpers Take Flight

News
Friday, April 20, 2012 - 11:38am

Would you jump off a 37 story building?

Five men did just that on Friday the 13th in Waikiki, Hawaii.

"You pray to God they don't but sure enough they do. They jump off there and just about the time they get down to where our floor is on the 14th floor their black parachutes open up and they just sail right on down," said Ray Belcher, who lives in the Marina Towers Building and witnessed the BASE jumping.

TK Hinshaw says BASE jumping is a spiritual activity, similar to religious beliefs.

He also says they take precautions like using the best equipment, planning and training for each jump and take weather into account.

He adds they are not "crazy yahoos" but college educated. Some are pilots, veterans and extreme sport athletes.

They have medical insurance and they don't want to hide their sport.

The building manager said the activity is not allowed mainly because of the liability.

That's also what concerns some residents.

"If an accident happens it's bound to come into play. I don't need an increase in insurance or costs at any rate," said Jim Besse.

Legally there is no law against BASE jumping, but Honolulu Police says that's no reason to try it.

"This type of activity is obviously dangerous. The Honolulu Police Department discourages people from participating in any action or stunt that could injure themselves or others. Depending on the circumstances, those participating in this type of activity could be breaking several laws including trespassing, criminal property damage, burglary or disorderly conduct," said Caroline Sluyter, Honolulu Police Department Spokesperson in a written statement.

In Friday's case one of the jumpers lives in the building and got access to the roof legally.

"I don't think this is something so serious it's going to warrant our legislature sitting in a room somewhere making up a law about guys jumping off buildings especially guys that are properly trained," said Belcher.

"I wish I had the courage that they have. I'm kind of a coward. I like to walk, I don't ride a bike, I don't drive a car, but anybody that can do that I give them lots of courage," said Richard Saltzman, Villa on Eaton Square resident.

Some told us the BASE jumpers aren't hurting anybody.

Others said there is risk of an accident.

"There would be lots of onlookers. They might not be walking properly or driving properly, it might cause a sensation. It might be dangerous for traffic but they can do it at night when nobody is here," said Saltzman.

Hinshaw says Friday's jump was likely the last one from the Villa on Eaton Square building, and he hopes one day he won't be looked down upon like a criminal.  

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