Celebrating A Decade of Paraplegic BASE Jumping | Model Citizen Spotlight

Meet Model Citizen Cassie Hero, one of our Disco BASE Jumpers, who recently jumped alongside para-athlete Lonnie Bissonnette on the 10th anniversary of the accident that put him in a wheelchair:

The Perrine Bridge, located in Twin Falls Idaho, is the only year-round legal bridge in America that allows B.A.S.E. jumping. It’s no wonder hundreds of jumpers flock to the scenic Snake River with cascading waterfalls and jagged canyon walls to play.

Lonnie Bissonnette Disco Hoodie Model Citizen BASE Jumper in Idaho

Lonnie Bissonnette wears his Disco Hoodie in front of the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, ID

 On July 19, 2004, Lonnie Bissonette hucked four consecutive gainers (backflips from a forward position) off the 486 foot bridge. Incredibly, this was his 1100th B.A.S.E. jump. His timing was slightly off but he knew the importance of sticking to the plan to avoid injuring any of the other jumpers next to him. With the bridle (line that pulls out the parachute) wrapped around his leg, Lonnie slammed into the river below to the sound of a cannon going off. Any average person wouldn’t survive a fall that high into water which then turns to concrete. Any average person wouldn’t be conscious after the impact and fight to breath with no ability to move any part of their body except their neck. And any average person wouldn’t return back to the same bridge 10 years later, to the day, to jump again. Lonnie suffered a broken C2, C3, C4, T2, T4, broken scapula (shoulder blade) in 3 pieces, several broken ribs, shattered femur, collapsed lungs, and a compressed spleen. He was left as an incomplete quadriplegic (all 4 limbs are effected by the injury). He can’t move his left leg but has feeling in it, and his right leg has restricted movement, but with no feeling. Oh yeah, and he still has 2 plates and 10 bolts in his neck along with a rod and 10 screws in his femur.

Within a year after the accident Lonnie made his first B.A.S.E. jump back and hasn’t stopped since. He currently has Para B.A.S.E. #1. He is the only person to jump off a B-building, A-antennae, S-span, and E-earth as a paraplegic. It was only appropriate to commemorate the day his old life ended and a new one began 10 years ago on the same bridge by making the plunge once again.

Betabrand Model Citizen Lonnie Bissonnette lands a BASE Jump in his wheelchair

Lonnie prepares to land his 10th anniversary BASE Jump in his wheelchair

When I got word of this “resurrection jump,” my boyfriend and I made sure to include Twin Falls in our road-trip adventure. I’ve seen Lonnie roll off a bridge in his wheelchair before, but this time was different. This one held so much more of an emotional mind fu@k. A local jumper constructed a special platform, ESPN was onboard with the story, friends and jumpers were present, and the weather was perfect. Lonnie was ready to explore the concept of revenge, the feeling of resurgence and the sensation of flight once again off his biggest enemy. The jump went as perfect as we all could have hoped for and while Lonnie lay on the ground, he passionately gave the bridge 2 middle fingers.

Lonnie and Cassie pose in their Disco threads after a successful jump

Lonnie hasn’t logged a jump since number 1101 because to him, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is that the quest for adventure continues, that his friends and family are along for the ride and that this accident does not define him, but merely makes him work harder for the taste of freedom. As I always like to say, it’s not about living, it’s about feeling alive.

If you would like to see Lonnie’s inspiring journey back to the scene of his accident and watch him roll off the bridge, watch ESPN on August 10th.

Lonnie poses with his jumper entourage after a successful anniversary landing.

Photos Courtesy of Pepe Cam: www.pepecamphotography.com

Cassie Hero

Cassie Hero

Cassie is a Model Citizen currently traveling the world with her magic backpack, mountain bike, purple disco hoodie, and lipgloss. She is searching for new adventures, lifelong memories, and the occasional meaning of gravity. Just give her some waves, a mountain, or an object to climb and the party will continue on.
Cassie Hero

Cassie is a Model Citizen currently traveling the world with her magic backpack, mountain bike, purple disco hoodie, and lipgloss. She is searching for new adventures, lifelong memories, and the occasional meaning of gravity. Just give her some waves, a mountain, or an object to climb and the party will continue on.

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