SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The mother of one of two skydivers who plummeted to their deaths in California said the skydiving business videotaped the tandem jump but investigators seized the footage.
Francine Salazar told a newspaper Sunday that her 18-year-old son was jumping for the first time and she paid to have the experience recorded. However, Federal Aviation Administration investigators took the tape and all the equipment used in the jump to determine what happened.
Salazar’s son Tyler Turner and an instructor died Saturday after their parachute failed to open and they plunged into a vineyard in Lodi, 85 miles east of San Francisco.
Salazar said she accompanied Turner to the Lodi Parachute Center as he and several of his friends celebrated a birthday.
“Before he got on the plane, he knelt down and prayed, made his peace with God, and then turned around and gave me a great big, huge hug,” Salazar told the Merced Sun-Star (http://bit.ly/2aZsest). “He said, ‘I love you, Mom,’ and then he got on the plane.”
She said she never saw her son come down with his instructor because she couldn’t tell where they were in the distance and didn’t know the color of their parachute.
San Joaquin County sheriff’s officials have not identified the instructor.
Bill Dause, owner of the Parachute Center, said the instructor was a veteran who had about 700 previous jumps.
Salazar said she was concerned before the jump because an instructor told her son and his friends they didn’t need to finish watching the safety video shown beforehand.
Dause told the Sun-Star he believed the group watched the entire video because it plays repeatedly at the center.
“… I’m pretty sure they saw it,” he said. “But it wouldn’t have made any difference (if they didn’t). It was an unfortunate accident.”
Dause told Sacramento television station KCRA on Saturday that it appeared “something may have gone out of sequence in the jump.” The wind and other conditions were perfect, he said.
The skydive center was in the news in May, when a small plane carrying 17 skydivers took off from there and landed upside-down after clipping a pickup. The worst injuries were minor cuts and scrapes.
In February, the Lodi News-Sentinel reported a solo skydiver died after a parachute malfunction at the center.