Ground search for missing skydiver suspended

Ground search for missing skydiver suspended

Credit: KING

Ground search for missing skydiver suspended

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by KING 5 News and Associated Press

KREM.com

Posted on January 6, 2013 at 7:34 PM

The ground search has been suspended for a skydiver missing since Thursday after jumping out of a helicopter near Mount Si.

The King Sheriff's Office said over the last four days 386 volunteers from 19 different agencies have searched an area approximately 9 square miles for 29-year-old Kurt Ruppert. 

The Sheriff's Office helicopter spent three days searching from the air, and searchers also extensively searched a quarter mile square area that they said was a "potential" area based on cell phone and the helicopter flight path data.

The Sheriff's Office said they have completed searching the areas that could be reached on foot. 

There are cliff areas that could not be searched due to the extreme risk to searchers.  The Sheriff's Office said they will search those areas by helicopter when weather permits.

At the time of the jump, Ruppert, of Lake City, Fla., was wearing a special wing suit with fabric under the arms to allow him to glide like a flying squirrel. The suit is brown and green, and likely blends into the terrain, though his parachute was reportedly blue.

He was skydiving with two friends, and they were taking turns jumping from the helicopter. The friends were waiting at a grassy landing area, but no one saw whether Ruppert's chute deploy.

Searchers were hoping Ruppert was stuck in a tree with his parachute or perhaps lost in rugged state-owned land around 4,200-foot Mount Si, West said.

Ruppert has been skydiving seven or eight years and is good at handling a wing suit, said a friend, Art Shaffer, owner of Skydive Palatka in Palatka, Fla.

Shaffer jumped with Ruppert at midnight on New Year's Eve and said Ruppert left Tuesday to jump with friends in Washington.

Ruppert is not married and once owned a landscaping business, said Shaffer, who is in contact with Ruppert's family and friends.

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