On February 22, Daredevil “Mad Mike” Hughes perished when his steam-engined rocket crashed in the Barstow, California desert. His mission was to launch his vessel to a height of 35,000-feet in an attempt to confirm his theory that the earth is flat. Mad Mike attracted attention for his conspiracy theories and for documenting his bold pursuits. He raised thousands of dollars on GoFundMe to finance the construction of his rockets. 

A now-viral video shared on Twitter by journalist Justin Chapman showed the daredevil's fatal mishap, but the details of what exactly went wrong were obscure until now. Mike's rep, Darren Shuster, told TMZ that, upon launching, Mike's parachute got snagged by a ladder next to the rock. The ladder was placed there because Mike had used it to get inside the rocket, as he was opposed to the initial plan of being lifted into it.

Mike's ground control crew radioed him to deploy one of the two backup parachutes installed on the rocket, but Mike never responded. It's suspected that Mike blacked out due to the rocket having blasted off at around 500 MPH. Since Mike was unable to heed his crew's instructions, he failed to deploy his backup parachute before reaching the launch's apex. Chapman's unfortunate footage captures the first parachute disconnecting shortly after the rocket began its ascent and then freefalling.