Brian Lee Schubert, a private investigator and veteran BASE jumper, leaped from a bridge to his death on Oct. 21. He was 66.
The Alta Loma, Calif., resident was a former Army paratrooper and a graduate of the FBI Academy. He worked in law enforcement for more than two decades, ending his career as a lieutenant with the Pomona, Calif., police department. After his retirement in 1989, Schubert opened his own private investigation business. He was also an avid fisherman, hunter and skier.
Schubert was in his 20s when he first explored BASE jumping, a sport which involves parachuting off buildings, antennae, spans and earth. In 1966, he and his friend Mike Pelkey became the first people to jump from El Capitan, the largest monolith in America. Fierce winds near the 3,000-foot-high rock formation in Yosemite National Park caused Pelkey to accidentally fracture his ankle. Schubert collapsed his parachute early and broke all of the bones in his feet — and several other bones as well — upon landing. He did not BASE jump again for 40 years.
Last Saturday, thousands of people watched Schubert jump from the New River Gorge Bridge during the annual Bridge Day festival in Fayetteville, W. Va. According to witnesses, Schubert’s parachute opened about 25 feet from the ground, too late to stop his fall. He hit the New River, 876 feet below the bridge, and died on impact.
Nearly 400 jumpers from 13 countries performed 804 jumps at Bridge Day this year. Schubert’s death was the first time a fatality had marred the event since 1987, and the third since the festival started in 1980.
• World BASE Fatality List