David Stather, the Calgary doctor who died in a BASE jumping accident last Friday, was remembered by the sporting community as a man who loved life.
"The last time I saw Dave alive he was relaxed and smiling," wrote Stather's friend and fellow thrill-seeker Ralph Greenaway in a post on the member site basejumper.com.
Greenaway, Stather and another companion were BASE jumping off a remote cliff in northern Arizonza near the Grand Canyon last week.
BASE stands for building, antenna, span and earth. The sport is similar to skydiving, but fans of the extreme sport launch themselves off a cliff or high building instead of jumping from a plane.
On Friday, Stather had a parachute strapped to him, as well as a wing suit.
It appears the doctor hit rocky terrain before his parachute opened just 15-20 seconds after he jumped, writes Greenaway.
'Sitting around our campfire the night before Dave’s death, he could not have been happier.'- friend Ralph Greenaway
Det. Pat Barr, with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office in Arizona, said Tuesday that an autopsy has been completed and the death will be ruled an accident.
Writing to announce the death to the online community, Greenaway said the trio had spoken a lot about what lines to take down the cliff. He said Stather started conservatively and got progressively lower.
He wrote that Stather's death is a "loss to everyone who knew him and everyone who now won’t get the chance to meet him."
"Sitting around our campfire the night before Dave’s death, he could not have been happier," wrote Greenaway in the post. "He talked about his life, his work and the days jumping with equal enthusiasm. It is my belief that he loved where he was in life."
Stather's body will now be transported to Guelph, Ont., where his family lives.
Basejumper.com post dedicated to Stather
I am sorry to have to post that Dr. David Stather, from Calgary, Canada died during a wingsuit proximity flight from a remote exit point in northern Arizona on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.
The last time I saw Dave alive he was relaxed and smiling, sat in the sun on the exit point. His intention was to gear up and jump after watching our flight. From the landing area it is possible to see the exit point and most of the flight line. As we stashed our gear we repeatedly looked back up the wall expecting to see Dave standing on the edge in his red aura and watch his exit. Somehow we missed it, 45 minutes later I was still waiting, somehow hoping that he had changed his mind and walked back to the cars. Not knowing what had happened but hoping he had not jumped we hiked the three hours back out. On arrival back at the car it was obvious Dave was not there. It took us 30 minutes of studying the talus from above to locate what we believed was Dave’s red wing suit. He was in an inaccessible location 1,500 feet below the exit. We called 911 and requested search and rescue assistance.
Due to a lack of remaining daylight a rescue helicopter was not able to reach the area until early the following morning. When the aircraft arrived, it quickly located Dave’s body and confirmed he had died from massive injuries resulting from impacting rocks at high speed. Death is believed to have been instantaneous.
The pilot chute was out of the BOC [bottom of the container] but the pins and the container were still closed. The position of his body on the talus was consistent with him impacting the terrain about 15–20 seconds after exit, while in low level proximity flight. This was Dave’s third flight in the last three days, down the line he was flying. As always he started conservatively and got progressively lower. There had been a lot of discussion about the lines we were flying, the outs and the visual illusions created by the different sized rocks. The angle of the terrain is such that at almost any point on the line he was flying it should have been possible for him to gain altitude for a safe deployment.
Sitting around our campfire the night before Dave’s death he could not have been happier. He talked about his life, his work and the days jumping with equal enthusiasm. It is my belief that he loved where he was in life.
Dave’s death will be a loss to everyone who knew him and everyone who now won’t get the chance to meet him.
Fly free Dave, forever free.
– Ralph Greenaway