updated 6/11/2004 3:24:52 PM ET 2004-06-11T19:24:52

A man aboard a sightseeing helicopter took off his seat belt, opened a door and jumped to his death in Grand Canyon National Park, the helicopter company said.

The man’s body was found Friday in steep terrain at White’s Butte about 90 miles northwest of Flagstaff.

The helicopter was returning to the canyon’s South Rim on Thursday when the man plunged about 4,000 feet, said park spokeswoman Donna Nemeth.

“The man allegedly opened the door of the aircraft and exited, but until the investigation is completed, we can’t say exactly,” she said. Authorities gave few other details about the death.

Four other passengers and the Papillon Airways pilot were shaken but unharmed.

Nemeth said authorities don’t know whether the victim had any connection to other passengers in the helicopter.

“We are deeply saddened for this individual’s family and friends as well as for the pilot and for other passengers on board,” Brenda Halvorson, the Las Vegas company’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Papillon Airways spokeswoman Rachel Wilkie said she didn’t have any information on what happened before the man jumped.

Papillon Airways is the parent company of Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters, Wilkie said.

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