Search for missing skydiver suspended again until morning
January 4, 2013
Updated: 6:44 p.m., Jan. 4, 2013
The King County Sheriff’s Office will suspend the search for missing skydiver Kurt Ruppert, 29, of Lake City, Fla., until Saturday morning, according to KCSO Sgt. Cindi West.
Ruppert was reported missing after skydiving out of a helicopter near Mount Si Jan. 3.
The search had resumed this morning at the Mount Si trailhead and officials estimate 40-50 searchers are on the mountain looking for the man, but it was called off due to darkness West said.
The search area is estimated to be at least five square miles. KCSO has been able to pinpoint the flight pattern of the helicopter prior to the skydiver jumping, but West said a number of factors make it difficult to know where the skydiver might be. The skydiver was wearing a “winged suit” and the speed and height of the jump would enable him to travel a large distance in a short amount of time. Investigators also do not know if the man’s parachute was deployed, according to West.
KCSO Guardian 2 helicopter is not able to fly because of heavy fog on the mountain. Additionally the media has asked if Guardian 1, equipped with a thermal imaging device, would have been helpful in the search. West said thermal imaging would not be used for this mission because the search pattern is so large and the vegetation is so thick.
Pilots said thermal imaging devices are best used for small search areas and is not effective in thick brush, she said.
KCSO will continue the search throughout the day and will update on TWITTER if the man is found.