Authorities have identified the BASE jumper killed at Bridge Day today as 66-year-old Brian Lee Schubert of Alta Loma, California.
Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird says Schubert was an experienced parachutist with numerous BASE jumps to his credit. Schubert died after hitting the New River, 876 feet below the New River Gorge Bridge about 11:45 a.m.
Lew Whitener says Schubert's chute didn't start to open until he was about 25 feet above the water. Whitener, a photographer for Beckley's Register-Herald Newspaper, says spectators gave a collective gasp when Schubert hit the water.
Laird says organizers allowed jumping to resume about 20 minutes after Schubert's body was recovered because favorable weather and light wind were not making jumping any more dangerous than usual.
Mathis Reimann, who jumped after the accident says it's a reminder of how dangerous BASE jumping can be.
Schubert's equipment was collected and will be inspected as part of an investigation by the sheriff's department and the National Park Service.
The fatality is the first since 1987 at the popular event, which started November 8, 1980.