British base jumper, 65, dies after plunge from side of Italian mountain

Mark Andrews, 65, died after jumping off a mountain in Italy
Mark Andrews, 65, died after jumping off a mountain in Italy

A 65-year-old British base jumper has died after plunging from the side of a mountain in Italy.

Mark Andrews fell more than 400 metres (437 yards) and was killed instantly on Saturday. Another British base jumper died in the same place a year ago.

Mr Andrews, who was originally from Redruth, in Cornwall was understood to be wearing a wingsuit and a parachute. It is unclear why his parachute failed to deploy.

He reportedly had gone to the popular jumping spot at Paganella in the Italian Dolomites on his own. A retired engineer, Mr Andrews had been living with his wife in Bucharest, in Romania. He had previously lived in Russia.

Although relatively new to the sport, Mr Andrews was proficient, having completed nearly 600 jumps. He had, according to his Facebook page, leapt off mountains across Europe.

“He came to base jumping quite late,” a fellow jumper told Mail Online. “He’s only been doing it since 2014 but he packed a lot into those nine years.

“He was fearless and will be missed. He was a regular in Italy at various base-jumping events, but had also base-jumped all over the world off bridges and skyscrapers.”

Difficult location

According to another base jumper, the location was known to be difficult.

“It’s not a straightforward descent, there are rock and tree ledges for the first 400 metres before it then hits 1,500 metres straight down.

“You have to be careful with the wind as well and that’s why only experienced professionals jump from that point with others heading to another location about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) away at Mt Brenta.”

Base jumping differs from sky diving because it entails leaping from a fixed point, rather than from an aircraft.

It is considered to be one of the most dangerous extreme sports. According to one estimate, 311 base jumpers have been killed.

The first known leap from a fixed point was in 1617 when Fausto Veranzio leapt from St Mark’s Campanile in Venice.

Other notable leaps include Frederick Law’s parachute descent from the Statue of Liberty in 1912. Two days later Franz Reichelt died when his “coat parachute” failed to open after he leapt from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower.