NEWS

Gabriel Hubert identified as Canmore wingsuit victim

06/08/2015 12:42 EDT | Updated 06/08/2016 05:59 EDT
The Edmonton-area man who was killed during a BASE jump near Canmore on the weekend was a passionate advocate who wanted to change opinions about the sport, friends say.

"He's a larger-than-life kind of guy. He liked to bring the best out of people and push people," said Lance Lefebvre, a long-time friend of Gabriel Hubert.

Hubert, 40, was killed Sunday morning when he crashed into trees following a BASE jump from Ha Ling Peak, a 2,400-metre mountain south of Canmore. Hubert was wearing a wingsuit, which allows jumpers to glide towards the ground before deploying their parachute.

Watch more on Gabriel Hubert in the video below by Andrew Evans

Canmore RCMP are still investigating the death.

"The only thing we have an understanding of is that his parachute did not deploy," RCMP Sgt. Ryan Currie said Monday. "I cannot say for certain if it was human error or an equipment malfunction."

Currie said the practice is not illegal and is quite common in the area.

"Ha Ling Peak is actually a fairly accessible mountain. A lot of people do hike the trail up the backside to reach the peak.

"A lot of people do use that area for BASE jumping with wingsuits and parachutes," said Currie. "It's common for people to use it, but not common for us to have accidents of this sort."

Hubert was pronounced dead at the scene. The two people he jumped with were uninjured.

A 'zeal for life'

In his last Facebook post on Saturday afternoon, Hubert was eagerly anticipating another jump.  

"Sun is shining, institutionalized on Sirius, going wingsuiting, ahhh f--k ya!! Thanks life," he wrote.

Lefebvre said his friend was a passionate the advocate for BASE jumping and wanted to change some people's negative opinions about it.

"He had a dream of flight," Lefebvre said. "He had a zeal for life."

The pair met a decade ago, when they were both members of the skydiving community. While the two didn't jump together, they often attended the same events and formed a close friendship.

It was Hubert who first introduced Lefebvre to BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, Earth) jumping — in  which people jump from fixed locations like buildings or cliffs instead of planes. Hubert quickly became his mentor, teaching Lefebvre how to participate in the dangerous activity.

"[He tried to] bring friends into the sport with him," Lefebvre said.

"The friendships you develop in this sport are life-long, however long that life may be."

Hubert was an "great father" to his young children and and a careful jumper, Lefebvre said. While BASE jumping is dangerous, he said his friend was far from reckless, and had a solid understanding of both his equipment and his own abilities.

While he had only started using the wingsuit on BASE jumps recently, Hubert had experience jumping from cliffs using parachutes. Lefebvre said Hubert was familiar with wingsuits and wore them many times while skydiving.

A popular person with other jumpers, Hubert's death has been a shock to the close community. Lefebvre said they have held several events to honour him.

"We had some beers and we shed some tears, and we haven't fully said goodbye to our friend yet."

Still Hubert's death has Lefebvre thinking twice about ever jumping again. 

"I may actually retire from base jumping because of this. I have a five-year-old-child and I do not want to leave my  child in the situation that he just left his children in."

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