Less than a month ago, extreme sports advocate and seasoned BASE jumping veteran Dean Potter (and his flying partner Graham Hunt) died after colliding with a cliffside during a routine jump in Yosemite National Park. Despite the illegal status of BASE jumping in almost all of the National Parks in the country, Potter had done the jump (and many like it) in Yosemite countless times since 2003. Hunt had successfully executed the jump solo just days before the accident.

Potter (who had dreamed of a day when experienced BASE jumpers could safely fly without the fear of legal recourse), believed that significant progress had been made by park officials in recent years towards the acceptance of the sport. To Potter, this meant that realizing this dream was right around the corner — which was particularly exciting since he believed that “anywhere else you go [to jump, that is not Yosemite,] is a compromise.”

Potter and Hunt’s deaths have received nationwide coverage, though the reaction to the news has been polarized.

Some folks merely voiced their deepest sympathies:

And others were inspired by Potter and Hunt’s legacy:

Yet the news was also met with harsh criticism:

And I mean *harsh*:

Some used the opportunity to spark a conversation on the work Potter was doing to enable extreme sports enthusiasts:

And some even felt this tragedy could be a catalyst to preventing future accidents:

But then again, this is the internet… so there were certainly plenty of folks who were happy to completely downplay the seriousness of the whole situation:

Personally, when deciding how to feel about the accident and Potter’s legacy, I think it’s helpful to be able to hear Dean Potter talk about flying in his own words:

Where do you stand on this debate? Do you think BASE jumping is a real extreme sport, or just the idiotic means to an adrenaline junkie’s fix? Do you think it should be allowed at our nation’s most beautiful, best maintained, and best protected areas? Be sure to sound off in the comments!

h/t: New York Times