A New Zealand man killed while base jumping in Italy knew the risks involved in the sport he loved, his stepbrother said.
George Allan Staite, 28, was killed on Monday when he and a group were base jumping off Eagle's Beak, in the Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige.
His step-brother, Motueka real estate agent Paul Davis, said Mr Staite was a free spirit who "just loved" skydiving and base jumping, which he had taken up several years ago.
A geologist, he had gone to Europe in February after a stint working for a mining company in Western Australia.
Mr Staite grew up in Nelson and went to Tahunanui School and Nelson College, before finishing his secondary school years at St Andrew's College in Christchurch. He completed a BSc at Canterbury University.
His mother, Nancy Davis, of Nelson, and 20-year-old brother Julian are flying today to Italy, where they will be joined by his sister, 24-year-old Catherine, who is already in the Mediterranean area.
Mr Davis said news of Mr Staite's death had come as "a massive shock" to the family, "but George knew the risks of what he was doing".
"He's just lived on the edge his whole life."
Friend Marco Regina, a fellow base jumper in Italy, said he found out about Mr Staite's death on Facebook and couldn't believe it.
"At first, I was like I hope it's not him, but when I found out I was really sad."
He said Mr Staite had been living in his van in the area since March, jumping every day.
The pair met at the local bar, and had base-jumped together. Mr Staite sometimes making coffee for Mr Regina when he slept in his car nearby.
"He was a really quiet person, kind of reserved. He had this really slow way of talking. He was really nice to everybody," Mr Regina said.
"He told me base jumping was the thing that made him the happiest person in the world. He would have never stopped."
Despite the fatal fall, Mr Regina said his friend's death did not deter him from jumping again.
"I'm still going to jump. The first jump I want to dedicate to him and I want to do it where he died," he said.
Media reports suggest Mr Staite's parachute failed to open about three quarters into the 1100 metre fall, and he would have been travelling at about 200 kilometres an hour when he hit the rock face.
Witnesses to the accident alerted local authorities and his body has since been removed from the area by helicopter.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) said they were aware of the death and were liaising with Italian authorities.
Mfat would be providing consular assistance to the man's family, the spokesman said.
Video: Base jumping from the same area in Trentino Alto Adige.
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.
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