Calif. skydivers honor jumpers killed in accidents

PERRIS, Calif (AP) - Southern California skydivers linked arms and legs to form the name of one of two skydiving instructors killed during a plunge and released the man's ashes into the air Saturday, the day after another accident at the same airport killed a man and critically injured another.

The divers spelled out the name "Pat" during the so-called "ash dive" to honor Pat McGowan, of Menifee, who was killed with Christopher David Stasky, of San Diego, on March 31. The men, both 42, collided over Perris Valley Airport and their parachutes deflated about 300 feet in the air.

More than two weeks after the accident, divers said they were still baffled by it.

"Every time there is any kind of an accident we look through it and we look at the jumpers," Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, manager of the popular Perris Valley Skydiving and friend of McGowan, told KCAL-TV. "Were they doing a jump they shouldn't have been doing? Were the skies too crowded? Was the weather too bad? And this accident was none of those things."

The memorial took place in the shadow of a very similar accident Friday, when another pair of experienced jumpers' parachutes collided and became entangled about 200 feet above the ground, Brodsky-Chenfeld said.

Both victims in that accident had a couple thousand jumps each, Brodsky-Chenfeld said.

One man died at the hospital Friday and the other was in critical condition, Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela said. The surviving skydiver underwent emergency surgery for severe injuries to his head and chest.

The two men involved in the accident were Turci Yuri and Jakob Jenson, Valenzuela said, but she could not confirm which one had died because authorities had been unable to reach relatives. The coroner's office would only say the dead jumper was a 32-year-old man.

The Friday jump was the third fatal accident in three months at Perris Valley Skydiving, which averages about 150,000 jumps a year, the Riverside Press-Enterprise said. At least 12 skydivers have died in accidents at the facility since 2000.

Brodsky-Chenfeld told the newspaper that safety procedures were followed in the recent accidents, and it was not clear that different ones would have helped.


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