Adventurous activities are nothing new for Mason Barth.
The UW-Stout student and Neillsville native has been active in sky diving and cliff jumping over the past year, but he’s now paying the price for his adventurous side.
Barth, 20, was arrested and charged with a count of criminal trespass to an energy provider property after he climbed a 300-foot Charter Communications tower on Meadow Hill Drive in Menomonie last week with the intention of BASE (Building, Antenna, Span and Earth) jumping from it. During the descent, Barth became entangled in one of the tower’s guy-wires and hung there for two hours before being rescued by responding police, fire and street departments in Menomonie.
He was released from custody following a bond hearing on Friday and he has a pre-trial conference for Dec. 10.
On Tuesday, Barth recounted his adventure. He said everything went as planned as he climbed the tower the morning of Oct. 17. He knew grassy fields that surrounded the area would provide many safe landing locations.
As he prepared for the jump, he opened his parachute, but it opened facing the tower, a direction he hadn’t planned for.
“I was actually flying right at the antenna and then I did my best to correct it, but by that time I was too close to the wire and it just sucked me into it,” Barth said.
For about an hour, Barth did his best to free himself from the wire. Eventually he called the non-emergency police department line and requested assistance, saying he was in an “interesting predicament.”
Authorities arrived and brought him down from the wire with a city of Menomonie bucket truck at 9:34 a.m. He was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System — Red Cedar in Menomonie, treated and released, then headed to jail.
According to the criminal complaint Barth admitted to seeing a “no trespassing” sign after entering a gate on the property around the tower.
Speaking with authorities Barth said he’s jumped from a few bridges in Minnesota but never in Wisconsin. He said he’s never jumped from a tower before although a review of Barth’s social media revealed a video of him jumping off an antenna at unknown location on Sept. 26, the complaint stated.
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During his approximately two hours of being suspended about 50 feet in the air, Barth wasn’t concerned about his safety, he said.
“Of course it’s dangerous but I wasn’t worried, I was just trying to get out of it with the least amount of damage to my parachute,” Barth said.
Barth’s biggest regret from the incident was putting rescue personnel into a situation where they needed to help him.
“I just really want to emphasize how much I appreciate the people that helped me that day,” Barth said. “They were a very good crew and they did their job perfectly.”
Barth spent his time in custody thinking about how his family would react and how the incident would affect the BASE jumping community.
Despite the ongoing court case, Barth doesn’t plan on stopping extreme sports. He has a trip planned to Tennessee for cliff jumping in November.
There aren’t any cliff jumping opportunities in Wisconsin so Barth meets up with people he’s met through social media who share similar adventurous interests at locations throughout the U.S.
For sky diving adventures, Barth usually stays local with jumps at various drop zones in Wisconsin.
Brenna Jasper, crime prevention specialist with the Menomonie Police Department, said Barth was fortunate to not be injured and that his rescue was completed successfully. With other ways to satisfy extreme sport enthusiasts, Jasper said it’s vital to take all the steps necessary to be safe while also avoiding illegal behavior.
“There’s all kinds of ways to do things like BASE jump, those types of thrill-seeking activities safely and legally,” Jasper said, “so it’s just important to take the proper precautions when you’re wanting to do those things.”