Some couples are drawn to one another because both partners are naturally daring and share a passion for adventure and extreme sports and activities. Amber Bellows and Clayton Butler sound like they fit that description. The newlyweds were married for only two weeks when they decided to take a big risk and go BASE jumping in Utah's notoriously rugged Zion National Park. They were experienced in the sport, which consists of climbing and jumping off of fixed objects using parachutes, and likely didn't think much about ascending Mount Kinesava -- a 7,276-foot peak -- and diving from about 2,000 feet. But their venture took a tragic turn when Amber's parachute refused to open and Clayton could do little but watch and attempt to save her.
Amber, who was 28, jumped first. After noticing that her equipment had malfunctioned, her 29-year-old husband leaped after her but was unable to find her body. It reportedly took him two hours to then climb down the rest of the mountain and seek help. I can't for the life of me imagine what it must have felt like for Clayton to wander through the park alone, thinking the worst and praying for the best. A rescue team found Amber's body the following morning and police are investigating her death.
This is the first BASE jumping death to occur in the park, and it's important to note that the activity is illegal in Zion. Considering its many jagged cliffs and the dangerous nature of jumping, it is understandable why it wouldn't be allowed in the area. Our hearts go out to this young couple, who never had a chance to actually begin their lives together. I can't imagine a more horrible way to lose your partner than to actually witness his or her death. I'm not sure that it's any consolation to Clayton to think that Amber died while doing something she loved, but I hope he and her family can find some peace during this extremely difficult time.
Have you ever tried an extreme sport like BASE jumping?
Image via StuSeeger/Flickr