APNewsBreak: Death of skydiver probable suicide

AP News
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Posted: Dec 06, 2011 5:57 PM
APNewsBreak: Death of skydiver probable suicide

The death of a champion skydiver whose body was found under a cliff outside Moab has been ruled a probable suicide.

Moab Police Chief Mike Navarre said he plans to close the case Wednesday with a finding from medical examiners who believe David Roy Brown, 37, killed himself.

Brown was on a hike June 29 when he fell nearly 300 feet from Utah's Moab Rim. His remains were discovered by a hiker about four months later in terrain so rough a police detective had to scramble on hands and feet to reach the body.

Originally from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Brown had been living in the United States for about a decade. He moved to Utah to teach skydiving several months before he vanished.

Brown was a pioneer in the sport of vertical formation skydiving who held several awards for combining various acrobatics with others in 30-second free falls, said James Hayhurst, competition director for the U.S. Parachute Association. He had thousands of jumps.

Brown was beloved in the tight-knit world of skydivers, and many of his friends showed up for the search, some using paragliders. With nothing to go on for months, "people were saying he just disappeared from the face of the earth," Hayhurst said.

Navarre said he was reluctant to accept the finding of probable suicide without a note or hard proof. However, Brown was going through a divorce, had financial problems and after dissolving his own skydiving business moved cross-country to live in a trailer on property of the owner of Skydive Moab, the chief said.

Brown's shattered remains showed no sign of foul play, he said.

"There's no bullet, no knife scrape. He went off a ledge for 290 feet," Navarre said. "Whether he jumped or fell off the edge, I don't know."

Family members told The Associated Press said they were too distraught to take questions. A sister, Wendi TeKamp of Halifax, Nova Scotia, said Brown's ashes were disposed of following a Nov. 21 funeral.

His mother, Marian Conrad, said Wednesday, "I just loved him so much, and I'm devastated." A video on a Facebook page, "Dave Brown is Missing," shows him jumping with his mother from a plane above Sebastian, Fla.

Brown's wife, Erin Golden of West Hartford, Conn., wrote in an email to the AP, "We appreciate all of the hard work, consideration and care of Chief Mike Navarre and his staff in regards to Dave, his disappearance and discovery. It has been an incredibly difficult few months, and the family is grieving his passing which is simply a tragedy."