For the last couple of years, The Zephyr has been following, with a sense of bewilderment and amusement, the life and times of extreme sports entertainer, Andy “Sketchy Andy” Lewis. Most recently, we’ve been keeping an eye on his war with the National Park Service, stemming from an incident last May at Arches National Park.
On December 18, after months of bellicose online protests, BASE jumper/Slackliner Andy Lewis changed his plea to ‘guilty’ and paid a slap-on-the-wrist $965 fine. He appeared before Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner, in federal court in Salt Lake City.
He had faced five Class B misdemeanors, stemming from a BASE jump at Arches National Park. According to court documents, Lewis was charged with:
1. Knowingly giving a false and fictitious report to an authorized person.
2. Interfering, resisting, threatening and intimidating a government employee.
3. Delivering and retrieving a person or object by airborne means.
4. Gathering and possessing undesignated natural products.
5. Violating closure, designation, use and activity restriction, and condition of public use restriction.
Lewis pleaded guilty to the first three counts; the government dismissed counts four and five. In addition to the fine, Lewis was “placed on 18 months of Non-Supervised Probation. Probation is to start from May 2, 2014. The date of his offense.”The conditions of his probation require that the, “Defendant is not to enter into national parks/monuments,” and that he is, “not to make any threatening remarks to the rangers or employees that work at the national parks.” Further, that he commit, “no additional criminal violations.”
Lewis’s guilty plea stems from an incident last May. According to arresting officer NPS Ranger Liza Kent, Lewis had BASE jumped from the towers above the Three Gossips in the Park Avenue section of the park. Another NPS employee could see Lewis “hiding behind Juniper Trees;” when Officer Kent arrived, she found Lewis “lying on his back on the ground,” and when confronted by Kent, he tried to blame this incident on his friend. According to Kent, “LEWIS denied ever being in the wash or base jumping” and “stated that his friend did the BASE jump and he had nothing to do with it.”
Here is Kent’s full description from her report:
“While investigating a BASE jumping incident at Three Gossips, I began to track the suspect based on an eyewitness account of were [sic] the person landed and then were [sic] the person ran and hid behind Juniper Trees. Based on the tracks it appeared LEWIS was running and staying in a wash. The wash was deep enough so a person could not see LEWIS from the parking lot or roadway. LEWIS was reported by an Arches National Park employee as hiding behind Juniper Trees and quickly sticking his head out and then quickly hiding behind trees again. LEWIS was found over an hour after the BASE jump was reported. I contacted Andrew L. LEWIS at the base of Three Gossips. LEWIS was lying on his back on the ground. LEWIS stated that his friend did the BASE jump and he had nothing to do with it. LEWIS then stated he saw Law Enforcement vehicles in the area and became scared because he knew his friend was in trouble. LEWIS’s [sic] tracks put him in a wash were [sic] a pack and parachute were found hidden in a tree. LEWIS denied ever being in the wash or base jumping.”
For Lewis to plead guilty to anything must have been a bitter pill to swallow—his plea confirms the ranger’s account. It is an admission that he made the jump, then hid on the ground behind a tree, lied to the ranger by denying he’d ever made the jump in the first place, and then, incredibly, tried to misdirect the ranger’s attention to his “friend,” by suggesting his buddy was to blame.
In the months after his arrest and the charges had been filed, Lewis frequently vented on one of his public facebook pages. In a June 27 post, Lewis complained, “Like, by them arresting me and taking my shit away, they’ve now affected my well-being as a human. Did I affect their well-being as humans by jumping off a tower? Absolutely not. This is my job. This is what I do. I BASE jump. For a living. Like, this is like how I make my money.”
By July 16, his rhetoric got even hotter…:
“After 4 1/2 years in the sport, 160 objects, 50+ I’ve opened, $12000+ in fines, losing freedom in all US national parks, some national monuments, and all MGM properties internationally indefinitely, as well as getting dropped from a handful of my sponsors, I still managed to meet tons of rad people, have a shit load of fun with them, saw some of them go, and now that I have obtained 4 rigs, many skills, and have not sustained a single injury while doing so… I stopped to grab this quick shot of the ramp on high ultimate before my 800th BASE jump! So, Liza from NPS, go fuck yourself– you need it you stupid bitch. Hooray me. #fuckthepolice #seriouslyfuckthepolice #suckitliza #slacklife”
And just four days before he changed his plea to guilty, Lewis posted another complaint on his facebook page, aimed at law enforcement in general and specifically at his arresting officer, Liza Kent. Watching the riots that occurred after the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, Lewis wrote, “Part of me thinks this mob should break into the homes of these officers, drag them into the daylight, and murder them in cold blood for the world to see—only to be pardoned of all charges by the state. Sounds pretty fucked up when the roles are reversed, huh?”
Thinking he and Michael Brown were somehow kindred spirits, Lewis then offered his own sad tale: “I recently encountered a personal emotional vendetta against MALE extreme athletes of one national park ranger—Liza Kemp (sic) who generously over stepped her authority and decided to use it against me and my well being.”
Yes, indeed, who could be better suited to relate to the crushing poverty and discrimination of inner city minorities than a spoiled, white dude who makes a comfortable living by jetting around the world, jumping off the tops of high-rise casinos? My…how poor Andy has suffered.
Interestingly, (perhaps on the advice of counsel?), Lewis removed the post a couple days later. (The rest of Lewis’ complaint appears below as screen shots, taken directly from his page, before he removed it.)For all of his bravado and bluster, Lewis confirmed, via his guilty plea, just how deeply the courage of his convictions runs. Hiding under a tree and blaming a friend for his own behavior? That’s not the kind of man he claims to be. But “Sketchy?” Absolutely.
Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.
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