RCMP have arrested a 23-year-old woman who allegedly accompanied a man who BASE jumped from the Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler, B.C., then posted a video of the illegal stunt on YouTube.
The video posted on Wednesday, which police say shows the woman in the gondola, was apparently shot from a helmet camera worn by a male companion, who makes the jump at around the 2:30 mark of the video.
On Thursday, Whistler-Pemberton RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair confirmed the woman, a Whistler resident originally from Ontario, was arrested Wednesday at Longhorn Saloon and Grill in Whistler, where she has worked for three years.
LeClair said the woman has since been released on a promise to appear in court on April 2, in North Vancouver. RCMP are recommending charges of obstruction and mischief over $5,000.
"We initially interviewed her on Feb. 6. She was not co-operative at that point and that's where the obstruction charge arises from," said LeClair.
"Now she was interviewed yesterday and was more co-operative when she was presented with some of the evidence."
LeClair also said police learned the identity of the alleged BASE jumper on Wednesday morning, before the woman's arrest, but have not yet located the suspect.
"We're preparing a report to Crown counsel recommending charges against him of mischief over $5,000 and we will be seeking a warrant for his arrest.... He's arrestable right now if we locate him."
LeClair confirmed the man is 25 years old, has a B.C. driver's licence and is originally from Ontario, but police are not sure where he actually lives.
Meanwhile, it appears a man with a similar appearance has been on a BASE jumping tour of the region, apparently posting a YouTube video of a leap off the Stawamus Chief, a 700-metre-high mountain in Squamish, B.C.
Gondola safety mechanism damaged
In a statement issued Wednesday, a representative of Whistler Blackcomb said the man entered the gondola at around 3:45 p.m. PT before jumping 436 metres from the moving cabin at the highest point above Fitzsimmons Creek.
Judging from the video, it appears the man landed safely, but despite an extensive search by a Whistler Blackcomb mountain patroller and RCMP at the time, and the ongoing police investigation, he has still not been located.
The statement added that it is believed the man used brute force to open the gondola doors and damaged the opening and locking systems, which are designed to prevent the doors opening on their own.
"Whistler Blackcomb takes tampering a lift system very seriously and is working with the RCMP to press charges and recoup damages to the Peak 2 Peak Gondola," said the statement.
On Thursday, LeClair said although many are impressed with the stunt, it is not funny.
"This is a criminal act where somebody has indiscriminately done serious damage to someone else's property for selfish short-term gain."
Members of the public who have seen the video and happen to see the alleged BASE jumper in public are urged to contact Whistler RCMP.
Shane McConkey BASE jump referenced
The title of the video, McConkey Reborn, apparently honours Shane McConkey, an extreme skier who BASE jumped from the same point on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola when it opened in 2008.
McConkey's jump, however, with fellow BASE jumper Miles Daisher, was carried out during an event sponsored by Red Bull and with the permission of Whistler Blackcomb.
McConkey died in 2009 after jumping off a cliff with a parachute while filming a movie in Italy.
BASE jumping usually involves a leap off fixed objects with a parachute. BASE is an acronym which stands for four types of objects from which jumpers can make the leap – a building, antenna, span, or Earth, such as a cliff.