Coming from a jumper who was closet to both jumpers in this double fatality:
There words are my own and I do not give permission to use them in any other context.
Dean and Graham jumped from Taft point just after sunset. The exit there is not very technically difficult and was opened by myself, dean, and stanley several years earlier. They chose to fly a line through what had been nicknamed "the notch". This location is not particularly small, but does require an exit and flight that very few people in the world are capable off. If you have a perfect exit and perfect glide, you will pass over the ridge at around 200ft. If you look at the notch from exit, it looks absolutely impossible, and we used to joke that we would know wingsuits are ridiculous when we can fly over that. Dean had flown through it twice previously, Graham several more than that. I had just had a conversation with dean last week that I thought it was a bad idea and you gained nothing really in the flight by taking that line. He argued that you didnt have to decide until about 15 second if you had to stay committed to the line, and he would only do it if he felt he was flying perfectly. The only proximity involved in this line was however high you could cross the ridge. After you pass through the notch the terrain drops off a cliff.
Deans gf was on exit taking photos. Dean exited first with graham a second or two later. Graham passed dean early in the flight and was setting up on the left side. Graham made a sudden hard right towards the notch for unknown reasons. He passed in front of dean and slid into the right side of the notch where he impacted. Dean made it through the lower portion of the notch to the downhill side, but likely impacted a tree.
Deans gf did not see the impact, but thought they looked lower than normal flying that line. She thought she heard the sound of a parachute opening and rockfall. When she didnt hear from them in 10 minutes she called me concerned that something was wrong. Dean always texted her even before he stashed gear. After 2 hours of no word, yosar was called.
Its unclear if graham made the turn intentionally, because he thought he could not clear the upper ridge, to set himself up for a line through the notch, or because of some unknown weather condition. It is impossible to know if dean was burbled, or was just very low in the notch already. In the best case scenario, this is still an extremely challenging flight. Graham was hyper current and had just returned from a trip opening many exit points in moab including wingsuiting dragons nest. Dean was very current in the valley as well.
I will keep my personal thoughts and memories of these two private, but I appreciate those who have reached out. They were two unbelievably talented wingsuit pilots, most know deans accomplishments, and many would soon know about grahams. It just makes me angry that I had told them both that I thought that line wasnt worth it. It was the new standard of being an alpha male in the valley though. Like moths to a flame.
Can you help us with incident interpretation? We are interested in any details regarding personal experience, gear, weather conditions and any other circumstances related to the incident.