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Charges dismissed for BASE jumper cited after wife's death

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 12 2014 7:50 p.m. MST

Charges have been dropped against the BASE jumper who was cited for the jump that killed his wife. (Keith Johnson) Charges have been dropped against the BASE jumper who was cited for the jump that killed his wife. (Keith Johnson)

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Charges have been dropped against the BASE jumper who was cited for the jump that killed his wife.

Charges against Clayton Butler, 29, for BASE jumping off a natural feature were dropped Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced. The charge had been filed Saturday, the same day his wife of two weeks fell to her death.

"To be sure, BASE jumping in Zion National Park is unlawful, and this tragic BASE jumping accident underscores some of the reasoning behind the regulations which prohibit such conduct in Zion National Park," said Melodie Rydalch, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. "Nevertheless, the interests of justice do not warrant prosecution of Mr. Butler."

Butler and his wife, 28-year-old Amber Marie Bellows, were attempting an estimated 2,000-foot jump off Mount Kinesava on Saturday when Bellows' parachute failed to open. Butler jumped after his wife but was unable to reach her.

The newlywed couple were experienced BASE jumpers.

The misdemeanor citation carried a potential fine of up to $5,000 or six months in jail, according to park spokeswoman Aly Baltrus. The accident was the first fatality in Zion this year and the first ever BASE jumping incident in the park, Baltrus said Sunday.

Friends of Butler and Bellows set up a fundraising campaign to help pay for Bellows' funeral. As of Wednesday evening, more than $7,500 had been raised.

— McKenzie Romero

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