Will Daredevil Erik Roner’s Death Put An End To BASE Jumping?
On September 28 Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident in Squaw Valley, California, leaving behind a wife and two children. At just 39 years old, Roner had accomplished more than many will ever do in a lifetime. Still, his death came far too soon. Aside from his recent enthusiasm for skydiving and BASE jumping, Roner is also widely known as a professional skier for Teton Gravity Research and the Nitro Circus crew. Along with Shane McConkey, Roner created the new sport of ski BASE jumping.
Roner’s death happened at the opening of the Fourth Annual Squaw Valley Institute Celebrity Golf Tournament where he and three others participated in a four-man skydiving jump. Roner landed off-target into a tree and was suspended 30 feet in the air. Once taken to the hospital, he was pronounced dead.
Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways from how the action sports community responded to Roner’s death is that he was an admirable family man, and he was a role model to everyone in this regard. Everyone who knew him mentioned the wonderful family he left behind—two beautiful kids and an amazing wife. What we can all learn from this is how precious family is above all else, no matter what passion drives our lives. Roner, like other extreme athletes, never stopped pursuing his passion in the extreme sports realm, but he was committed to being the best father and husband he could despite his often reckless activities.
With the deaths of Graham Hunt and Dean Potter in Yosemite this past spring and the death of Ian Flanders this summer in Turkey, the sport of BASE jumping has taken a serious turn for the worst. So where do athletes draw the line? It seems all of these men were doing things in which they were capable of, particularly Roner who’s last jump was mundane compared to his usual, more advanced dives. The frightening truth is that almost all of these extreme athletes are always trying to push themselves to the next level to see what else they can do. This is no question of peer pressure, but rather something that is built within these athletes that drives them to keep seeking the next greatest adventure. While it may be a spirit we are skeptical of due to its risk, we also admire these men for reminding us to live out our dreams boldly. Daredevils will continue to push the lines further and further as we have already seen over time. BASE jumping is here to stay, but not one athlete takes deaths like Erik Roner’s lightly, and we can only hope they will learn from these tragic stories.