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BASE jumper from Lodi arrested after leap from bridge lands him in tree

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Raymond Arrieta

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 1:03 pm, Wed Sep 19, 2012.

A Foresthill Bridge BASE jumper was arrested after getting hung up Monday night on a tree branch near the end of his 730-foot plunge.

A Pacific Gas & Electric boom truck was dispatched from Marysville to work in the darkness of the American River canyon to rescue 26-year-old Raymond Arrieta of Lodi.

Arrieta hung by his skydiving apparatus 100 feet above the ground from about 8 p.m. until the boom truck operator could get him into the bucket at 2 a.m., Auburn State Recreation Area Supervising State Park Ranger Scott Liske said Tuesday.

During the time the BASE jumper was in the tree, a rescue team that included Cal Fire, Placer County Sheriff’s deputies and State Parks had to formulate several backup plans, including the possibility that Arrieta could fall, Liske said.

“He was in a very unknown situation,” Liske said. “At any time, the branch could break, he could panic and slip out of his harness, or he could pass out.”

Conscious and speaking, Arrieta was initially transported by ambulance to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital to determine the extent of any injuries.

BASE comes from an acronym for building, antenna, span and earth — fixed locations that jumpers launch from for a short skydive without aircraft. Spans are bridges, and earth refers to cliffs.

Liske said Arrieta told him that he has 600 jumps under his belt from airplanes and 60 BASE jumps.

BASE jumpers from the Foresthill Bridge typically free-fall for about 8 seconds before deploying their chute, Liske said. Although the bridge has seen numerous suicide leaps, no BASE jumpers have died, according to authorities.

After being discharged, Liske said that Arrieta was arrested on a Parks Code violation alleging taking part in an unsafe activity and booked into Placer County Jail in North Auburn. He was also cited for being in the Auburn State Recreation Area after hours, Liske said.

Bill Dause, owner of the Lodi Parachute Center, is not familiar with Arrieta, but he doesn’t always know everyone who comes though town to skydive, he said. Arrieta is originally from Puerto Rico.

“I don’t know if he’s staying in a hotel or living in a van,” said Dause. “He just gave the center for an address, I guess.”

It is not uncommon for skydivers to also try BASE jumping. Dause said both activities use similar parachutes.

“I kind of compare it to people who ski. Sometimes (they go to) a lot of different places, or even ski on sand dunes. It’s just a question of what they want to do,” said Dause.

Lodi News-Sentinel reporter Sara Jane Pohlman contributed to this story.

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