SALT LAKE CITY — The husband of a woman who died while BASE jumping has started a fundraiser in her honor.
On March 8, Amber Bellows was BASE jumping off Mount Kinesava in Zion National Park when her parachute failed to open. Her body was later recovered by a park search and rescue team.
Bellows’ husband of two weeks, Clayton Butler, was with her just before her jump. He parachuted off the cliff immediately after but was unable to locate her body at the base of the mountain.
Initially, Butler was charged with a misdemeanorfor jumping from a natural feature. Two days after Butler was charged, police announced the charges were being dropped. BASE jumping is currently illegal in all national parks.
Zion National Park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus said at the time the charges were filed that this was the first fatality related to BASE jumping in the park's history.
The days since his wife’s death have been challenging, but he’s ready to start the healing process, Butler said. As part of that process, he’s starting a fundraiser in honor of Bellows. He said he plans on splitting the donations three ways.
“Amber was a strong animal advocate,” Butler said. “I’d like to donate money to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), as well as pay back the search and rescue team who brought her down off the mountain.”
He also plans on donating money to Whole Planet, an organization that provides microfinance loans to impoverished people living in Asia, Africa, North and South America and the Middle East. Bellows was involved in Whole Planet and had visited Peru as part of a service group a few years ago.
Butler has set up a website and is selling T-shirts and bumper stickers to raise money for each of these three groups. He hopes to raise at least $100,000 to split three ways, he said.
The search and rescue team did not solicit reimbursement, Butler said, but he feels it is an important part in the process of honoring his wife.
“I will always be indebted to them for bringing my wife back to me,” Butler said. “I had to reach out to them to find out how much the rescue costs.”
A representative for Zion National Park had no comment regarding the money being raised for the search and rescue team.
Butler said he thinks BASE jumping laws needs to be changed in national parks. He is also starting a movement to legalize such activities in what he refers to as “taxpayer owned land.”
“BASE jumping in our national parks is a fundamental right,” Butler said.
Following Bellows' death, Jim Milestone, the superintendent of the National Parks Service, released a statement regarding the current laws regarding BASE jumping.
"It is just really sad and our condolences go out to her family and friends. BASE jumping is so dangerous. Even for those that are experienced, like Amber Bellows. That is one of the reasons it is not allowed in the park," Milestone said.
Contributing: Pat Reavy