Kiwi base jumper falls to death

Last updated 18:12 09/07/2012
Alan Malcolm McCandlish
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The New Zealand base jumper who fell to his death in Switzerland was 31-year-old Alan Malcolm McCandlish.
Berner Oberland
Mountains in the Berner Oberland area, Switzerland.

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A New Zealand base jumper who "soaked up as much of life as he could" has fallen to his death in Switzerland.

Alan Malcolm McCandlish, 31, was jumping with friends when he got too close to a cliff edge and fell at 10.40am Saturday near Berner Oberland, about 200 kilometres southwest of Zurich.

On lookers said the man, who was wearing a wingsuit, hit a rock ledge before plummeting to the ground. Witnesses immediately alerted rescue services, but the man was dead when they found him, Swiss police say. An MFAT spokeswoman said the Ministry was aware of the death.

Consular assistance will be offered to the man's family.

Taupo Tandem chief executive Hamish Funnell said Mr McCandlish was a ''capable and experienced'' skydiver who had worked for the company as part of the tandem sky-dive up to three years.

Staff at the business were "pretty shaken" at news of the death.

"He was a bloody nice guy  really good to work with. He loved life and really enjoyed the outdoors. He soaked up as much of life as he could."

German skydiver Dom Habersack took to Twitter to express his sorrow.

"The skydiving world has lost a legend. Watch over us, Alan McCandlish.  I am glad to have known you," he wrote.

Mr Funnell said McCandlish had been base jumping for about five years and took it up because of a "sense of adventure".

Mr McCandlish had been travelling through Europe for about three weeks with friends Teroy Attwood and Benjamin MacPherson when the fatal incident happened.

It is understood the pair will bring their friend's body home next week.

Mr Funnell said he had spoken to the pair after hearing news of Mr McCandlish's death yesterday.

"They are dealing with the situation the best they can. I guess it's pretty hard to be in that environment and that situation. They are just doing what they need to do to get out mate home."

McCandlish's death comes after Kiwi base-jumper Ted Rudd, 35, died after jumping off a mountain near his house in Norway on June 13 last year.ath comes after Kiwi base-jumper Ted Rudd, 35, died after jumping off a mountain near his house in Norway on June 13 last year.

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WHAT IS BASE-JUMPING?

It progressed from skydiving but instead of jumping out of an aeroplane, jumpers leap from fixed objects. Base is an acronym that stands for the four types of objects they jump from: buildings, antennae, spans (bridges), and earth (mountains).

Base-jumpers carry pre-packed parachutes to land safely and can wear special suits that let them travel horizontally as they fall. A 2008 study found the annual fatality rate in 2002 was one in 60 participants worldwide.

- Waikato Times

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