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Katie Connell

Katie Connell
Date: January 20, 2016 Nationality: American
Object Type: Span
Location: Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, California, USA
COD: Drowning
Clothes / Suit: Plain Clothes

Description:

Although 2 jumpers died at this location only one is recorded as the second jumper landed safely and took off all base gear to save the other..

Below is a statement from someone who is very close to both jumpers and is as accurate as anyone can write...

[hr]
Bixby creek bridge: base fatality and a heroes death


Rami and Katie left to go to Bixby creek bridge. They told friends they planned to jump there, but had a number of other locations planned as well. Phones do not work in that coastal area. They did not return on Friday as they had told people and planned, which was very out of character. On Saturday, Katie was not back in time for work and our concerns turned to fear.


Friends and family did everything they could to talk to people that had heard from them, seen them last, or had plans to see them. A lot of information was offered. If someone contacts you looking for base friends, do not turn the conversation into you trying to get facts unless they are asking for your help on that level. Offer only facts, or at least say this is merely opinion/speculation/possibility or ideas, then be patient and optimistic. Our community is curious and wants information, that is fine, but do not add or interfere with the stress, rescue, investigation. Information will come, helping the situation and our peers is what matters. Protecting objects future jumping potential when friends may be in distress at that location is against everything we stand for as a community. Nothing matters but helping our friends.


A missing persons report brought police to Bixby creek bridge on Saturday evening where they had noted a car in the parking lot for several days. The rental car was registered to Rami. They also spotted what turned out to be Rami's canopy and helmet/camera in the beach below the bridge. The following morning search and rescue went to work. They did not recover anything else. Nothing. Rami was recovered 11 days after the initial Accident sadly Katie has not been recovered to date.

What I have been able to confirm is that his camera turns on and they discuss and plan the jump. Katie will jump first and be pca'ed. Rami will jump second. They choose a small landing area to the jumpers right of the stream that dissects the already small landing area. The area they choose is very small but allows them not to cross the stream, therefor staying dry .
This area is smaller and closer to the ocean, however. The conditions were poor during their prejump and set up. There was a steady tailwind and violent winter swell at near high tide with a smaller than usual LZ. This object appears to be paradise, it is very much a blue to black diamond (using resort skiing technical rating).


Katie was pca'ed. She let out a celebration "wahoooo," then flew the right hand pattern discussed. She turned facing back towards the bridge and simply does not have the penetration expected due to under estimated winds and lack of wing loading. She landed in the wash Of the waves. Her canopy fell behind her in the breaking waves. She was immediately in a struggle in which she was outmatched, as most anyone would have been. Other jumpers have lost canopies on much better conditions. No evidence of the cutaway handle being used or if it would have helped in this situation. She had one on her rig.


Rami briefly watches from the top and didn't say anything, but realizes the situation and appeared to rush his jump. He free fell the jump in a hurried manner. He had a short flight, but clearly is dealing with wind and panic. He had a falling hands, arms, and knees down landing. He stripped his gear. That is where the facts end. Everything else is speculation.
Their jump was on Wednesday, the concerns began Friday, the search party began Saturday evening, the search and rescue worked on sunday. After reviewing video and knowing a violent front had moved through for days they called off the search after one day. There was nothing they could do. Simply the ocean, weather, area, and overall situation was far too extreme.


It's nice to call such a respected jumper a hero, but i would rather call him alive. An early lesson in any emergency response training is not to make things worse by putting yourself in harms way. It only complicates matters for the original victim, the attempted rescuer, and further rescue. Of course, what he did is what legends are made of and nothing can take that away from him or us, but we should all think deeply on whether we would want someone to give their life for our own. This may be speculation too. Simply, we don't know how we will respond in these situations until we are in them. We are a community of extremes, life and death, not living to norms, and going against our fears. I understand and love that.

Rami IS a hero.
...But keep in mind, that losing more life only makes things worse.


The List:
BASE Fatality List

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