Gareth Jones was a world traveler. He went BASE jumping in Southeast Asia, speed flying and cliff-diving in Australia, rock climbing and paragliding in Europe—and he captured it all on his Instagram account.
But the same free spirit that led Jones to post jaw-dropping photos of his aerial stunts, gorgeous oceanside sunsets, and reminders that “life is short” took a tragic turn Sunday when he plunged to his death at the scene of his latest photogenic landmark.
Here’s the penultimate picture Jones ever posted to Instagram. It’s a photo of the spot where he would later fall to his death.
After his death, Widmer took to Facebook to reflect on Jones’ life:
He was loud the day I met him, and he was loud the last day I hugged him and squeezed him before saying goodbye. He was never boring, he always challenged the norm. He made every moment more fun, and exciting. He pulled everyone out of their comfort zones and just let go. He was a 100 percent authentic version of himself, and completely proud to be who he was. He reached out to people when he needed to, and he held himself together beautifully. Ironically he told me and some others a week ago that when he died, he’d be pissed if his friends had a funeral and cried for him. He said he wanted to have a Viking Funeral and he wanted his friends to send him out to sea on a burning ship while celebrating and partying in the moonlight.
Jones, who was 25, was originally from West Sussex in the U.K. He reportedly went to Cambridge before embarking on his world travels and moving to Sydney last year, where he taught BASE jumping to other would-be adventurers and spent time living in hostels as he shared his experiences with the Internet.
Over at BetaBeat, Sage Lazzaro asks whether selfie culture was a contributing factor in Jones’ death: “It’s fair to ask if this is indicative of another dangerous trend: Are people more likely to engage in risky behavior to post interesting and like-worthy photos on social media?”
But if anything, Jones’ Instagram is the opposite of selfie culture. Whether he was BASE jumping off Kuala Lumpur Tower or mountain-climbing in Switzerland, he seems to have been motivated less by a wish to perform for the camera and more by a wish to live a life as full as he could make it.
Two years ago, Bouken Boy Media produced this short video about a trio of BASE Jumpers, Jones among them, who trekked to a coveted point in the Alps for a jump. As the filmmaker noted then, for these and others so often written off as thrill-seekers, their adventurers were actually anything but:
“What they do isn’t a sport—it’s a lifestyle.”
Photo via Echo Giesel Widmer/Facebook