NOS News•today, 4:44 PM
A BASE jumper has died after jumping off the Millau viaduct in southern France. The man’s parachute failed to open.
The road surface of the Millau viaduct is over 200 meters high and the bridge piers have a maximum height of 336 meters. This makes it the highest bridge in Europe. The jump was illegal.
Base jumping is an extreme sport in which participants jump from buildings with a collapsed parachute, after which they only unfold it at the last moment. They almost never have a reserve parachute. Because the jump is much closer to the ground than with a jump from an airplane, the sport is a lot more dangerous than a regular parachute jump.
Ban after deaths and injuries
The 30-year-old victim jumped off the bridge this morning around 8:30 am with two other BASE jumpers. The man’s parachute failed to open in time and when he hit the ground he died instantly, the Midi Libre newspaper reported. The cause of the parachute failure is still being investigated.
In the south of France, the bridge is a popular spot for BASE jumpers and the nearby bridge at Verrières was also regularly used for jumps. Due to several deaths and serious injuries, the local government banned jumping from these bridges in May.