UPDATE: Skydiver Loses Control, Falls To His Death In Lodi Vineyard
LODI (CBS13) – It was a horrifying finish in a vineyard next to the Lodi Parachute Center.
From 13,500 feet, a veteran skydiver lost control, started to spin, and fell to his death on Thursday afternoon.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office on Friday identified the man as William L. Calhoun, 71, of Novato.
“We’re speculating that he may have had a real hard opening. That’s what may have jarred the toggle loose and may have knocked him out,” said Bill Dause, owner of the center.
Dause says Calhoun had performed thousands of jumps and came to the center up to four times a month, using his own parachute.
“He’s been a skydiver and I don’t know the exact date, but since the mid-60s. So, it’s not like he just took it up last week,” said Dause.
The death marks at least eight skydiving fatalities at the center in the past decade.
In September 2009, Robbie Bigley and Barb Cutty died while performing a formation jump when their parachutes became entangled.
Despite the deaths, Dause doesn’t believe that this is a growing trend.
“Statistically, nationally, for the number of jumps we do, we’re as safe as any other place,” said Dause.
Dause says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has never found the parachute center at fault for any skydiving fatalities. But the agency has proposed several civil fines for safety concerns.
In 2011, the center was fined $269,000 for allegedly operating a plane without required inspections, 41 times.
In 2010, it was fined $664,000 for allegedly failing to replace parts in another plane.
The FAA reports no settlement was reached in those cases and both fines have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Now, another FAA investigation is about to begin following another skydiver death.
“We don’t like them. They’re all different. It’s not like we’re making one mistake and the same thing keeps happening over and over again,” said Dause.