Family and friends are mourning the loss of a Moab man who died Friday, March 21 while BASE jumping from the cliffs above Mineral Canyon about 40 miles west of town. Kevin Morroun, 35, died at about 7 p.m. after jumping in an area known as the “Sweet Spot,” approximately 1 mile upriver from the Mineral Bottom boat launch, Grand County Sheriff’s Lt. Kim Neal said Tuesday.
“He was my best friend/brother/and family. He had a heart of gold and was one of the best skydive instructors and base jumpers out there,” said Jimmy Peterson. “This world lost one the best people to ever walk the planet. He was always so stoked on life and it’s going to be hard to not have him here jumping with me anymore. I loved Kevin a lot and I’m so glad that I was blessed to know him and that we got to do all of the crazy adventures that we did.”
Morroun, an experienced skydiver who worked as a tandem instructor for Skydive Moab, was attempting to do a double back flip at the beginning of his jump and did not leave sufficient time for his parachute to fully open, Neal said.
“The maneuvers he was trying to do – it appears it just took him too much time and [the parachute] didn’t deploy fully,” Neal said.
Two friends who were BASE jumping with Mourron reported the accident as soon as they reached an area where cell phone service was available, according to a report from the sheriff’s office. Grand County Search and Rescue responded to the area and a Classic Lifeguard helicopter also was called to the scene, but crews were unable to recover Morroun’s body until Saturday morning, due to the difficult terrain and the fact that darkness was setting in, Neal said.
He said the helicopter was able to lower rescue workers to Morroun’s body, which was found approximately 400 feet below the top of the cliff. Search and rescue workers stayed with the body through the night and sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the area, Neal said.
On Saturday morning, search and rescue crews set up three different belays in order to transport Morroun’s body down the steep talus slope, Neal said. The recovery effort began at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and was completed at 12:30 p.m., he said.
“It’s really sad,” said Keith MacBeth, co-owner of Skydive Moab. “But at least he was having fun and living life how he wanted to ... When you do this sport, especially BASE jumping, you know you’re living life on the edge.”
MacBeth described Morroun as an excellent tandem skydiving instructor who was “very personable with people.” He said Morroun had logged about 8,000 skydives and approximately 200 BASE jumps. He was in his second season with Skydive Moab, MacBeth said.
“He was just full of life,” MacBeth said. “He lived life the way he wanted to.”
MacBeth said Morroun’s death is only the third connected to BASE jumping that has occurred in Grand County. Daniel Moore, 22, died in an accident on Nov. 23 while BASE jumping along state Route 128. And MacBeth said another BASE jumping fatality occurred several years ago.
“I wish there was some way to make sure this never happened again,” Sheriff’s Lt. Neal said. “But with these kinds of sports, that’s not really possible.”