Base jumper rescued — then arrested — after dangling overnight on mountain
Rescuers reached a Lynnwood man who was base jumping and became stuck on Mount Baring near Stevens Pass after his parachute lines got caught on a rock.
Times Snohomish County reporter
A parachutist who spent Monday night dangling from a rock outcropping on Mount Baring in Snohomish County was arrested shortly after he was rescued Tuesday morning on an outstanding warrant for parachuting off the Deception Pass Bridge.
Eldon Burrier, 44, a Lynnwood landscaper, is a former Army paratrooper who took up the dangerous sport of base-jumping about 10 years ago, according to press accounts. He told Snohomish County rescuers that he was making the jump off 5,700-foot Mount Baring, near Stevens Pass, to honor a friend, Aude-Marianne Beretucchi, 32, of Bothell, who died base-jumping off the same peak a week earlier when her parachute failed to open.
Base jumping is the sport of using a parachute to jump from a fixed object, such as a building or mountain. "Base" is an acronym for the things from which participants jump: "building, antenna, span and earth."
Burrier jumped from an 800-foot cliff near dusk on Monday night. His parachute lines caught on a chimney rock about 200 feet down the mountain, said Lt. Kathi Lang of the Snohomish County sheriffs Office. Burrier called 911 from his cellphone at about 9 p.m. and told dispatchers he was dangling from his parachute straps, scraped and bruised, but otherwise uninjured.
He spent the night hanging about 600 feet off the ground, wrapped in his parachute for warmth, Lang said.
A Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue helicopter attempted to reach Burrier Monday night but couldn't do so safely. A ground team climbed up to the parachutist Tuesday morning and, using ropes and pulleys, hauled the man to the top of the mountain where he was airlifted to Granite Falls, Lang said.
Burrier refused medical treatment and was having lunch in Granite Falls when police realized he was wanted on an outstanding misdemeanor warrant from Skagit County. He was arrested and taken to the Skagit County Jail, where he was booked and then released because of jail overcrowding, said Chief Will Reichardt of the Skagit County sheriff's office.
On May 1, Burrier was cited for reckless endangerment after he jumped from the Deception Pass Bridge, which connects Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island, and parachuted to the shoreline about 180 feet below.
Deception Pass State Park rangers said there was heavy boat traffic in the pass that day, and they were concerned about the safety of those on the water.
Burrier failed to appear for a court hearing on the reckless-endangerment charges in July, and a judge issued the arrest warrant, according to court records.
Over the past several years, Burrier's name has turned up in press reports about base-jumping competitions around the country.
In 2004, he participated in a "swooping" contest in New York where jumpers hurtled toward a pond at about 70 miles per hour using small "canopy" parachutes and then maneuvered into surface glides across the water before landing on a far bank.
Burrier told The New York Times, "I'm a speed freak and this is a serious taste of speed."
Two years later, Burrier was quoted in The Denver Post after the death of a sky diver during another swooping competition. He brought red lilies the following day to commemorate the death.
Seattle Times researchers Gene Balk and Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or email@example.com
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