PLANT CITY, Fla. - People are jumping in Jeff Bunkley's backyard, but it is not on a trampoline. Instead, BASE jumpers are climbing up the telephone tower and taking the plunge.
"It is a long way up," said Bunkley.
The tower, located at 2222 Lightning Rod Lane in Plant City, is 300 feet high. It is also fenced in and surrounded by barbed wire.
That didn't seem to deter three daredevils Friday morning, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies. They say Trond Bjelde, 38, Daniel Darby, 23, and another man who evaded deputies trespassed on tower property, climbed to the top with a ladder and jumped off.
Unfortunately for the men, a tower technician was there working, saw them climbing to the top and called 911.
"I think if you do something like that, you are crazy," Bunkley added.
According to Tim Jones, a manager and chief skydiving instructor at Jump Florida, said BASE jumping is crazy if you don't know what you are doing or if you are doing it illegally. In the United States, BASE jumping is illegal.
"You only have a chance once, you have one parachute and one try," explained Jones, who estimates the men's chutes opened about two seconds into their jump.
Unlike skydiving, there is no reserve chute that deploys automatically once you reach a certain altitude. Skydivers usually jump out of a plane from at least 10,000 feet, significantly higher than where these men allegedly jumped. Jones said you must be very well-trained and have the proper gear in order to base jump.
It is not clear how the trio gained access to the tower, considering it is fenced-in and surrounded by barbed wire.
When they landed, deputies were waiting. The third man got away in his car, deputies said.
ABC Action News did reach out to Bjelde and Darby for comment but did not immediately hear back.
The tower is owned by American Tower Corp. Both the technician who witnessed the incident and other company leaders declined to comment.
The technician did say the company plans to pursue the case in court.
Bjelde and Darby are now facing trespassing charges.
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