The Yosemite community is mourning the deaths of two men who died over the weekend.
Park Rangers say Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were BASE jumping Saturday night when something went horribly wrong.
Yosemite is very beautiful but can be very dangerous. Park rangers told us they see on average about a dozen deaths per year here in the park. Now, those who we spoke with who have known Dean said he was a great guy with an amazing personality.
Dean Potter is a well-respected, widely known extreme athlete. Taking risks that only few ever dared to take and his bravery has paved the way for men like Michael Real. “He was really (an) incredible, inspiring person,” Michael Real, a Yosemite Valley resident said.
Yosemite Park Rangers said Potter and Graham Hunt went BASE jumping Saturday night. It’s an activity that is quickly gaining the reputation of high adrenaline and even higher risks. After the two didn’t come home a rescue mission went underway. “For us here as employees, there’s you know, there’s a lot of grief and a lot of mourning in the community,” Scott Gediman, a Park Ranger and Spokesperson for the U.S. National Forest Service told us on Monday.
That mission turned into tragedy on Sunday. Rangers claimed they found Potter and Hunt’s bodies near Taft Point they believe their BASE parachutes may have failed to deploy. “We just want to, you know, be human beings about it and express our sympathy and our condolences,” Gediman said.
BASE jumping is a federal offense in Yosemite and those caught can face serious fines and jail time. “We’ve had resource damage, we’ve had base jumpers who have landed in trees, landed in rivers and things like that,” the Park Ranger explained.
Those who look up to athletes like Potter and Hunt explained they’re very aware of the dangers but will always remember Potter’s strong spirit. “He has this really incredible presence and that presence is gone,” Real said.
Park rangers said they are investigating where exactly the two men jumped off.