Alberta man charged with trespassing after BASE jumping off historic railway bridge

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

A video of Lethbridge, Alta., BASE jumper Johnny Korthuis diving off the city's landmark High Level Bridge has apparently gone viral but authorities aren't applauding.

Korthuis, a self-styled adventure athlete who helps run the family tree-trimming company, posted the stunt on YouTube last week and it's garnered almost 24,000 views so far.

Both Lethbridge police and officials at CP Rail, which owns the landmark bridge, condemned the jump.

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Police wrote Korthuis, 25, a $287 ticket for trespassing on the 103-year-old bridge, which soars almost 96 metres (more than 300 feet) above the Oldman River.

“We’re concerned the attention and accolades the video continues to receive could lead to copy cats and the last thing we want to have to do is go and knock on someone’s door and tell them that their loved on has been seriously injured or killed because of a stunt like this,” police spokeswoman Kristen Harding told the Calgary Herald.

“This is very stupid and dangerous behaviour first and foremost,” CP Rail spokesman Kevin Hrysak told the Herald.

“To be out actually promoting this type of behaviour is dangerous in its own right as well. We go to great lengths to deter this type of action. It’s very unsafe. There’s lots of signage in the area about trespassing.”

Korthuis, who's put other extreme-sports feats to do with cycling up on YouTube and boasts several sponsors, said he didn't intend to encourage copy cats with last Saturday's stunt.

"By no means did I ever want to inspire unsafe or illegal behaviour," he told CTV News. "Safety is priority one and you want to be able to do the things you love for your whole life rather than getting reckless and doing things for the adrenaline rush.

[ Related: Norwegian BASE jumper killed near Grand Canyon ]

"My motives are not to be reckless or to be bad ass or anything like that, but I just simply had a goal, one that I had been looking forward to achieving for a long time."

BASE jumping (BASE stands for building, antenna, span [bridge] and earth [ie. cliff] ) is a dubiously legal form of extreme sports. Some jumpers get permission to dive off man-made structures but others risk trespassing charges to make the leap.