A well-known and highly skilled skydiver plunged to his death off a television tower yesterday when his canopy failed to open during a jump. Authorities say that Josh Sheppard, 31, was found dead at the bottom of the 1,000-foot WLAJ-TV tower in Jackson County west of Detroit, Mich. at 5:30 p.m.
Sheppard, who was from the Detroit suburb of Southfield, was alone on the tower and his fall was unbroken, Caldwell said. Sheppard was wearing the parachute when he was found, Michigan State Police Sergeant Kevin Caldwell said.
“This wasn’t his first try, according to family and friends,” Caldwell said. “He has done this all over.”
Sheppard’s fatal jump from the tower, which is surrounded by fencing and no-trespassing signs, is still under investigation, Caldwell said.
Sheppard, in sky diving circles, was well known for his years of hundreds of successful jumps, many of them using a wingsuit, a relatively young sport.
BASE is an acronym standing for building, antenna, span or earthen feature, such as a cliff, that are used as jumping locations.
Sheppard had previously jumped off of broadcast towers as seen in photographs from his Facebook page.
It is not known if Sheppard was influenced to make yesterday evening’s jump after viewing a popular YouTube video of a man doing nine front flips from a broadcast tower.
Many parachutists have been injured following jumps from broadcast towers and a number of jumpers have been killed.
In 2005 a Haywood, Calif. man got caught on a guy wire at approximately 200 feet when he jumped from a 2,000-foot tower.
His frenetic, near death, 16-minute 911 call to an operator can be heard here.