Officials: Tahoe man, 39, arrested after illegal BASE jump |

Officials: Tahoe man, 39, arrested after illegal BASE jump

Jason Shueh
Sierra Sun
Provided to the TribuneAaron Joseph McGovern, 39, of Olympic Valley.

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. – A successful BASE jump off the 730-foot-high Foresthill Bridge near Auburn landed a local man in jail last week after he was spotted by a police helicopter, law enforcement officials said.

Officials with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office arrested Aaron Joseph McGovern, 39, of Olympic Valley, when a PCSO helicopter spotted McGovern leaping off the bridge on Dec. 7 at around 8 p.m.

PCSO Public Information Officer Dena Erwin said the department’s Falcon 30 helicopter crew was searching for a suicidal female jumper who’d been reported by multiple callers. Instead of finding the woman, officers found McGovern.

“Officers witnessed him jump and followed him down to the bottom,” said Erwin.

As officers followed McGovern’s descent via their search beam into the nearby American River Canyon, Erwin said McGovern bolted down a trail in hopes of evading the police spotlight.

Erwin said he eventually arrived at his vehicle situated off the Old Auburn-Foresthill Road, then doubled back down the trail and hid his parachute in a thickly vegetated area.

Relocating to another bushy area nearby, Erwin said McGovern spent the next 15 minutes attempting to hide from officers as the Falcon 30 crew trained their spotlight on his location and made continued requests to coax him out.

McGovern was eventually arrested on suspicion of two misdemeanor charges – resisting arrest and illegal recreational activity in a state park.

“We took him into custody without incident and he spent the night in jail,” Erwin said.

Calls to McGovern were not immediately returned.

The leap off the bridge – the fourth highest in the United States – was the third time a BASE jumper has been caught either in the act or on the ground over the past three months, according to a story in the Auburn Journal. The others occurred in September and October.

BASE stands for “buildings, antennae, spans and earth” – the usual jumping off points for low-altitude parachute leaps.

In the most recent incident before Wednesday’s, 34-year-old Nicholas Frey, also of Olympic Valley, was arrested after being rescued by the Falcon 30 crew after jumping and being suspended 30 feet in the air when his parachute snagged on a tree limb, according to the Auburn Journal story.

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