David Kirke, the World’s First Bungee Jumper, Dead at 78

He was "Byronesque in [the] thrall of living life to the full," a family friend said

David Kirke, the man who carried out the world's first-ever modern-day bungee jump, has died, according to reports. He was 78.

Kirke was launched into notoriety after he jumped off the 245-foot Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, England, on April 1, 1979, wearing a top hat and tails while he held a bottle of champagne, the BBC, The Guardian and The Independent reported.

Three of his friends then jumped off the bridge, according to The Guardian and the BBC. All four were arrested by police for disturbing the peace and fined.

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Following that feat, the "Dangerous Sports Club" performed bungee jump stunts at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, while another jump from the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge in Colorado was aired on television, per The Independent.

Of the genesis of his "Dangerous Sports Club," Kirke told Vanity Fair in 2004: “What we hated was the way that formal sports had all these little, important bourgeois instructors saying, ‘You’ve got to get through five-part exams to do this.’”

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The group would go on to conduct other mind-blowing stunts, like sliding down a grand piano from the slopes of St. Moritz in Switzerland and even jumping from mobile cranes and hot air balloons, according to The Independent and the BBC.

Speaking with the BBC, Kirke's family called him a "free spirit" who "would never have changed the life he led." They added, "He will be much missed."

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According to the network, Kirke said that the "real reward" after completing one of his amusing stunts had made people he would never meet happy and that it gave "them fun."

Kirke, who, according to The Independent, died in his bed, would "have been shocked" to learn his fate, a family friend told the outlet. He added that he was "Byronesque in [the] thrall of living life to the full."

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