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Man Isn't Missing After All

January 25, 2006|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

Scott Dedham was a BASE jumper, part of a world of extreme risk takers who defy the law by vaulting off bridges, office buildings and cliffs.

Last week, the day after his 22nd birthday, he called his mother to say he was about to go on another jump. Then she didn't hear from him.

Several days after his disappearance, the family received anonymous e-mails stating that the Valencia man was injured in an accident but didn't provide details on where to find him.

Dedham's family frantically searched for him, along with investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His case was featured on network news programs, and friends distributed fliers with his picture on them.

"This was a sport Scott loved," said his mother, Theresa Dedham, as she drove with her husband to the Perris airport, 10 miles southeast of Riverside, to meet with BASE jumpers and skydivers who were aiding with the search. "He loved it, he lived for it."

Then, late Tuesday, authorities announced that Dedham had been found alive and well.

Sheriff's investigators are now describing the entire event as an elaborate hoax and vowed they would continue probing until they got to the bottom of it.

Steve Whitmore, a sheriff's spokesman, declined to say where Dedham was found.

BASE, which stands for Building, Antennae, Span and Earth, grew out of skydiving and involves leaping from peaks or edifices. Most jumps are made with parachutes from heights of less than 1,000 feet.

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