A smokejumper in Idaho was killed in a parachuting accident Friday, the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement. Mark T. Urban, 40, of Boise died in a training exercise near Boise when his parachute malfunctioned, according to CNN on Sept. 29. A colleague described Mark as being the "best liked" on the team.
Urban was doing a training jump at the Great Basin Smokejumper Base about 45 miles east of Boise when the horrific accident occurred. Urban was described as a trainer in the program who was very experienced.
According to Ken Frederick with the National Interagency Fire Center,
Urban had been with the airborne firefighting program for 11 years. He was one of the main trainers, and even developed the rookie training program.
NIFC spokesman Don Smurthwaite described Urban as the kind of smokejumper that others aspired to be. "He set the standard for all smokejumpers", he said, adding the comment about how he was the best liked on the team.
Urban, originally from East Longmeadow, Mass., had been a BLM smokejumper since 2003. Mark is survived by his wife Rebecca, his parents and his sister, according to the Twin-Falls Times News.
The Bureau of Land Management's website describes the smokejumpers program's mission as being to deploy firefighters and equipment to remote and rural areas to help with fire suppression.
These specialized firefighters are designed to respond to extremely remote and hard to reach wildfires, while they are still small an hopefully containable.
They're mission is also the preservation of forests and grasslands. The dangerousness of their job is mitigated by the fact that they have such an advanced training regimen, of which Mark Urban was taking part in when he died.
Urban's death is said to be the first smokejumper death since 2000, Frederick said. He is the 33rd wildland firefighter to die this year.
19 hotshots died June 30 outside Prescott, Ariz., marking the highest number of firefighter deaths in one fire in over 50 years.
An investigation into the parachuting accident is expected to begin on Sunday.