Kalamazoo man falls to death in Colorado

Dylan Jarsma. (Courtesy photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Kalamazoo man fell to his death last week while taking a photo on top of a Colorado waterfall.

Dylan Jarsma, 22, died Friday at the North Clear Creek Falls in the Rio Grande National Forest.

Dylan Jarsma. (Undated courtesy photo)
(An undated courtesy photo of Dylan Jarsma.)

His girlfriend, who was with him, said it happened in a matter of moments.

“It all just ended so quickly. He was standing right in front of me and then all of a sudden he was just gone,” the girlfriend, who asked not to be identified by name, said during a phone interview.

Jarsma was an amateur photographer and took landscape photos all over the country. He hoped to one day have his pictures featured in National Geographic magazine.

“He was willing to get anything to get that photograph that nobody else was willing to risk getting,” his girlfriend said.

That meant hanging off of cliffs in Hawaii and braving bears at Yosemite National Park, she said. His favorite thing to photograph was waterfalls.

“He was an extremely passionate person and he never did anything half way,” his girlfriend said.

A landscape photo taken by Dylan Jarsma. (Courtesy)
(A landscape photo taken by Dylan Jarsma.)

After Jarsma graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 2010, he spent four years in the U.S. Navy, serving in San Diego and O’ahu, Hawaii. He was was preparing to start school in at Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado Springs. He hoped to become a wildland firefighter.

Jarsma and his girlfriend were headed to the school Friday when they stopped to take photos.

While trying to capture an image of the waterfall, Jarsma lost his footing and fell 200 feet. His camera was lost in the fall.

Investigators say he may have developed vertigo.

“He died doing what he loved,” his girlfriend said. “He was in the mountains. He was on top of a waterfall with a camera in his hands right next to the love of his life. At that moment, there was nothing missing for him.”

Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Aug. 26 at the Second Christian Reformed Church on Nichols Road in Kalamazoo Township. In accordance with Jarsma’s wishes, his ashes will be spread over a waterfall in Yosemite National Park.

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