UPDATE 5:09 P.M.| The King County Sheriff’s Office has called off the search for the night due to darkness, according to Sgt Cindi West. It will resume at 8 a.m. tomorrow.
A skydiver who went missing during a jump near Mount Si yesterday afternoon has been identified as Kurt Ruppert Jr., 29, of Lake City, Fla.
Dozens of searchers are looking Ruppert, who disappeared after he jumped from a helicopter near Mount Si. King County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West says Ruppert could have landed in a wide area because he was wearing a wing suit with fabric under the arms to fly through the air.
He and two other skydivers were taking turns jumping from a chartered helicopter. The other skydivers were waiting in the landing zone, but didn’t see the jump.
The pilot said Ruppert jumped from an altitude of 6,500 feet.
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 single and once owns a landscaping business, said Shaffer, who is in contact with Ruppert’s family and friends.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” he said.
According to the United States Parachute Association, wing-suit flying is one of skydiving’s newest disciplines.
“A wingsuit is a specialized jumpsuit that uses fabric to create arm and leg wings on the jumper. The wings allow the jumper to cover large horizontal distances across the sky while maintaining a very slow descent rate,” according to the association’s website.
In July 2004, Jeff Barker, 32, of Seattle, was killed during a wing-suit jump from Mount Baring in east Snohomish County.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this post.