Two BASE jumpers presumed dead after leaping off iconic California bridge


Two BASE jumpers are presumed dead after leaping off an iconic California bridge, authorities said on Tuesday.

The Monterey County Herald reported that authorities first realized the two jumpers were missing on Saturday, although the jump is thought to have occurred Wednesday morning. They said the woman who jumped off the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur first likely drowned, as did the man who jumped trying to save her.
Monterey County Sheriff’s officials said Monday that a video from a helmet camera showing Mary Katherine “Kate” Connell, of Ventura, descending roughly 300 feet and
landing on Bixby Creek, which feeds into the Pacific. Shortly after the landing, large waves overtake her.
"As the water retreats back into the ocean, Connell and the parachute are not seen retreating back to shore," Sheriff Steve Bernal said.
The camera then captures the man’s view as he jumps off the bridge and heads toward the beach below, according to the Los Angeles Times. Monterey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. John Thornburg said after the man lands safely, he removes his helmet and parachute and goes after Connell.
Bernal said there are no plans to release the video. Divers are searching the area and other officials are searching from the land and by airplane, Bernal said.
Bernal said the man’s name and the pair's ages have not been released. Investigators have said the man was originially from Finland.
Deputies learned of the jump when they recovered an abandoned rental car Saturday afternoon, after callers reported seeing a parachute on the beach. A parachute and helmet were found partially buried in the sand, and the camera and the recording were recovered later.
Deputies looked up the car renter's name and discovered he had an extensive background in BASE jumping and skydiving. Bernal said Connell was an experienced skydiver with more than 300 jumps. 
Jackie Faust, general manager of Skydive Monterey Bay in Marina, said while skydiving and BASE jumping are similar, there isn't much overlap in the communities. She said BASE jumping can be more dangerous and isn't regulated like skydiving.
"(BASE jumpers) don't have two parachutes, they have one, and it's completely different equipment," she said.
Jumping off Bixby Bridge can be especially dangerous because of the ocean and the relatively quick drop, Faust said.
The bridge is 290 feet above Bixby Creek. The creek flows into the Pacific Ocean at a high-rate of speed, according to the Times. Thornburg said the water is difficult to navigate for inexperienced swimmers.
He said the bridge is mostly known for the amount of people who leap off of it to commit suicide. Jumping off the bridge is illegal.