BASE jumper Johnny Strange dies in wingsuit jump in Swiss Alps

BASE jumper Johnny Strange dies in wingsuit jump in Swiss Alps
Jonnny Strange scales the rock formation above his backyard pool in Malibu in 2009. He was killed while BASE jumping in the Swiss Alps. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

Adventurer Johnny Strange, who grew up in Malibu, was killed Thursday when he crashed while wingsuit BASE jumping in the Swiss Alps.

Strange, 23, crashed a few seconds after taking off from Mt. Gitschen about noon, according to a statement from Swiss police on Friday.


Police were investigating the crash, but Swiss officials told the Associated Press that strong winds had been reported on the mountain that day.

Just days before the incident, Strange talked about his trip to Switzerland on KROQ-FM's Kevin and Bean show. After the interview, he jumped off a Swiss mountain and filmed himself flying.

The video shows Strange in a wingsuit soaring through the sky above a lush green mountainside, then traversing over a rocky peak until he finally releases his parachute to break his fall.

It was the last video he posted to YouTube. In his last Instagram photo, Strange wrote, "Which tree should we bring home for Christmas?" The photo shows Strange flying over a tree-topped mountainside.

Model Gigi Hadid said she went to Malibu High School with Strange, whom she described as having an adventurous spirit.

"He lived more in 23 years than many do their whole life," she said on Twitter.

Strange was best known for daredevil and risky stunts. Wingsuit BASE jumping was one of them. Like BASE jumping, athletes leap from a mountains, ledges and buildings. But the difference is in the wingsuit, which allows them to the extend their flight range and time.

The inherent dangers of BASE jumping intensify when an athlete dons a wingsuit.

Rock climbers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt were wearing wingsuits when they leaped off Taft Point at Yosemite National Park in May and died. Park officials said their parachutes never deployed.

Potter addressed the dangers in a blog post.

"Though my body is warm inside the nylon suit I start to shiver and wonder if what we're doing is right," Potter wrote. "Wingsuit BASE-jumping feels safe to me but 25 wingsuit-fliers have lost their lives, this year alone. There must be some flaw in our system, a lethal secret beyond my comprehension."

Strange acknowledged the dangers of wingsuit BASE jumping on his social media accounts and mourned the deaths of fellow jumpers.


After Potter died, Strange wrote, "You were one of my favorite BASE jumpers and getting to fly Wingsuits with you off Via F the next year made me beyond proud to know I had gotten to BASE jump with someone who I regarded as a legend. Thanks for your Wingsuit advice, I'm sorry to hear you died flying. See you on the other side."

At 17,  Strange became the youngest person to climb the world's highest mountains in seven continents, known as the "seven summits."

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA.