Florida skydiver missing near Seattle is presumed to be dead
Monday, January 7, 2013
SEATTLE — The search for a wing-suit-wearing skydiver in the Cascade foothills will continue by helicopter as the weather allows, but officials don't expect to find him alive.
No one saw a parachute Thursday, and if Kurt Ruppert, 29, of Lake City, Fla., survived the jump and was caught in a tree or lost in the forest, he has likely died since of hypothermia. "We just don't think he survived at this point," King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said Monday.
Dozens of searchers were out four days "calling and calling," West said. "If he survived, he wasn't conscious enough to yell to us."
It snowed Thursday night and temperatures have been in the 30s and 40s around Mount Si, a steep and heavily forested 4,200-foot peak about 30 miles east of Seattle.
Searchers covered nine square miles before the ground search was suspended Sunday. Fog prevented a helicopter search Monday.
Ruppert jumped out of a helicopter at 6,500 feet. The webbed wing suit lets a skydiver glide at up to 100 miles per hour, so he could have covered a lot of ground, West said.
There's a record of Ruppert's cellphone signal until he jumped or shut it off, West said. That information led to an extensive search of a quarter-square mile area, which found no sign of him.
Ruppert carried a blue parachute in a black pack. His wing suit is tan and green, which would be hard to spot in the woods.
Friends of Ruppert's were with ground searchers over the weekend, West said.