Paralyzed BASE Jumper Marks 10 Year Anniversary of Accident


By Rachel Holt

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV )

July 19th, 2004 is a date that Lonnie Bissonnette will forever remember.

Attempting to complete his 1,100th BASE jump off the Perrine bridge, the lines of his parachute tangled around his foot.

After crashing into the Snake River, Lonnie suffered a spinal cord–injury that left him paralyzed.

It's a memory that would fill most people with sorrow and dread, but for Lonnie, it signifies something different.

He says, “I don't look at this date as a negative thing. I joke that this is my second birthday. I should've died that day and I didn't so I just celebrate this day every year.”

This year, Lonnie decided a proper celebration would include a BASE jump off the same bridge that put him in a wheelchair.

Friend and fellow BASE jumper Sean Chuma explains, "it’s different than just jumping off because now he has to wheel off. He has to make sure his body position is real stable so the parachute can open cleanly."

Friends made sure Lonnie had the support and tools he needed to make it happen.

Friend and BASE jumper Joey California adds, “I was all about the project when I heard about it and building the ramp and starting the design. We got it going for him."

Lonnie adds, “it was always something from day one that I said I would come back and do. It was never a rush for me and I said when the time came I would know it."

After completing the jump, Lonnie reflects on the moment.
“It bought back a lot of memories-- good memories, bad memories, it was a whole range of emotions up there but in the end it just felt good.”

Chuma adds, "he just wanted to put himself up to the challenge and it took nerves of steel to do it."

California agrees, noting "it makes you wonder what is possible. It just gives you the hope of never giving up."

But the extreme athlete will tell you his reason for living the way he does is not for applause or recognition.

Lonnie says, “people would use the word inspiration and inspiring and I don’t feel like that type of person. I always said I’m just a regular guy who is too stupid to quit.”

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