Skooter reports 01/06/13
An exhaustive search is now concentrated for a skydiver who disappeared during a jump above Washington's Cascade foothills failed to pinpoint the location of the Florida man as darkness fell Saturday.
At least 145 searchers scoured the Mount Si area east of Seattle for 29-year-old Kurt Ruppert, who vanished Thursday afternoon after he jumped out of a helicopter at 6,500 feet.
The searchers combed specifically in a quarter mile-square area near the summit, King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said, but they kept combing other areas as well.
During the jump, Ruppert, of Lake City, Fla., wore a special wing suit with fabric under the arms to let him glide like a flying squirrel. The suit is brown and green, and possibly intermingling into the terrain, though his parachute was said to be blue.
Ruppert was skydiving with two other friends, and they were jumping alternatively from the helicopter. The friends were reportedly waiting at a grassy landing area, but no one saw whether Ruppert's chute opened.
Based on the flight pattern of the chopper he leaped from and details from his cell phone’s location just before the jump, West said they opted to narrow the search area. She is likely to resume the search at dawn Sunday.
West said searchers were hoping that the missing skydiver was trapped in a tree with his chute or perhaps lost in rocky state-owned land around 4,200-foot Mount Si.
A friend, Art Shaffer, owner of Skydive Palatka in Palatka, Fla, said that Ruppert has been skydiving for seven or eight years, and was skilled at handling a wing suit. In fact, Shaffer jumped with Ruppert at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The friend said Ruppert left Tuesday to jump with friends in Washington.
Ruppert is single and once owned a landscaping business, Shaffer said. He is now communicating with Ruppert’s family and friends.