NEWS

Dave Brown, Canadian Skydiver: Utah Death Ruled Probable Suicide

12/06/2011 05:23 EST | Updated 02/05/2012 05:12 EST
SALT LAKE CITY - The death of a champion Canadian skydiver whose body was found beneath a cliff in eastern Utah has been ruled a probable suicide.

Dave Brown, who grew up in Halifax, vanished on June 29, shortly after leaving his trailer in Moab, Utah.

His remains were found by a hiker four months later on the outskirts of the town in terrain so rough a police detective had to scramble on hands and feet to reach the body.

Moab police chief Mike Navarre said Tuesday that medical examiners believe the 37-year-old killed himself.

Navarre noted that he was reluctant to accept the finding of probable suicide without a note or hard proof. But he said 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.

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

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

Navarre said he plans to close the case Wednesday.

Brown's family members told the Associated Press they were too distraught to take questions.

His wife, Erin Golden of West Hartford, Conn., wrote an email to the Associated Press in which she thanked Utah police for their work.

"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," she wrote.

"It has been an incredibly difficult few months, and the family is grieving his passing which is simply a tragedy."

Brown's mother also expressed her grief.

"I just loved him so much, and I'm devastated," said Marian Conrad.

A video on a Facebook page, "Dave Brown is Missing," shows him jumping with his mother from a plane above Sebastian, Fla.

Brown's Halifax-based sister Wendi TeKamp said her brother's ashes were disposed of following a Nov. 21 funeral.

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

He was beloved in the tight-knit world of skydivers, and many of his friends showed up to search for him, some using paragliders.

The U.S. Parachute Association said Brown was an early pioneer in the sport of vertical formation skydiving and held several awards for combining various acrobatics in 30-second free falls. He had thousands of jumps.