Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

Fatal fall: Base jumping 'what he lived for'

George Staite, a New Zealand base jumper was killed in Italy. Photo / Supplied
George Staite, a New Zealand base jumper was killed in Italy. Photo / Supplied

Friends of a 28-year-old New Zealander killed in a base jumping accident in Italy say the sport was his passion.

George Staite was travelling at a speed of about 200 kilometres an hour when he hit a rock face in the Trentino Alto Adige region in Italy's north, La Gazzetta Del Mezzogiorno reported.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said consular assistance from the New Zealand Rome embassy would be offered to Mr Staite's family.

Mr Staite, originally from Nelson, had been base jumping in Italy for about a month and had leapt from a peak called Eagle's Beak, about 1100 metres from the ground.

He had travelled to Europe via Australia to pursue his love for the sport, and an online video shows him and other enthusiasts making jumps this year.

"It was predominantly planned around base jumping, as much as it was around being over there and travelling throughout the countries in Europe," said Lisa Chambers, marketing manager for Skydive Abel Tasman.

She and other staff got to know Mr Staite when he learned to sky dive with the company.

"He was always into his extreme sports of some sort. But base jumping was, without a shadow of a doubt, pretty much what he lived for.

"He probably would have learned to skydive with us as soon as he turned 18. And he learnt to sky dive purely to base [jump].

"His family is based in Nelson, so whenever he was back on holidays he'd come in and come for a few jumps with us all."

Ms Chambers said Mr Staite was "lovely".

"He was very chilled, very relaxed, quite quiet at times, but incredibly funny as well. He had a very dry sense of humour.

"Always pleasant and positive and had great things to say to people. A really good guy."

Fellow base jumper Marco Regina said his close friend was "an amazing person, always smiling, super relaxed and super slow while talking".

Mr Regina was not with his friend at the time of the accident, but the two had travelled and base jumped together before.

"Who's gonna prepare me the coffee in the morning when I sleep in my car next to your van?" he wrote in a Facebook tribute.

"I already miss you so much buddy... but I'm sure that we'll meet again one day."

The tragedy follows the death of skydive instructor Alan Malcolm McCandlish, 31, who died in a base jumping accident in Switzerland in July.

Last year, another New Zealander, Ted Rudd, 35, died after a failed jump in Norway.

Base jumping involves leaping from fixed objects - buildings, antennas, bridges, or cliffs - before parachuting to safety.

- NZ Herald

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