THE New Zealand base jumper who died in Italy yesterday “lived on the edge his whole life”, his family says.
George Allan Staite, who was 28, died when his parachute failed failed to open about three quarters into a 1100 metre fall, English news site La Gazzetta de Mezzogiorno reported.
He was jumping with a group off Eagle’s Beak, in the Trentino Alto Adige region.
His step-brother, Motueka’s Paul Davis, said Staite was a free spirit who took up base jumping several years ago.
He was also a keen sky diver.
The news of his death was a massive shock, “but George knew the risks of what he was doing”.
‘‘He’s just lived on the edge his whole life,’’ Davis told The Nelson Mail.
He grew up in Nelson and went to Canterbury University.
His mother, Nancy Davis, of Nelson, and 20-year-old brother Julian were flying to Italy tomorrow, where they would be joined by his sister, 24-year-old Catherine, who was already in the Mediterranean area.
A geologist, he had gone to Europe in February after a stint working for a mining company in Western Australia.
Staite had been jumping in the region most of the year.
Friend Marco Regina described Staite as his “kiwi brother”, who “left this world doing what he loved most”.
He was “an amazing person, always smiling, super relaxed and super slow while talking… just one of the coolest friend I met,” Regina said.
“I already miss you so much buddy… but I’m sure that we’ll meet again one day… and thanks for waiting for me between the trees after my first WS BASE,” he wrote on Facebook as a tribute to his mate.
“GOOD BYE my kiwi brother, I love you, fly free.”
Witnesses to the accident alerted local authorities and his body has since been removed from the area by helicopter.
Base jumpers launch themselves off a platform, usually a mountain’s ridge, and use a parachute to slow them down before landing.
They typically wear a wing suit to help them travel horizontally.
Two New Zealanders were killed base jumping last year, in Switzerland and Norway.
IMAGE: Chris McNaught via Wikimedia Commons