On Wednesday, May 14, there was a parachute accident near Lodi Parachute Center. The center is located in Acampo, California south of Sacramento. One person is reported to be dead as a result of the accident.
While unable to provide full details on the incident, Steve Butler, chief of the fire district of the area, confirmed the death. According to Butler, emergency crews responded to a call at about 4:14 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The location the medical crew was called to was a vineyard off of Jahant Road.
According to Butler, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office had investigators at the scene. Although by Wednesday evening there appeared to be little activity at the scene.
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration commented on the incident. Ian Gregor, FAA Public Affairs Manager, said, “A skydiver using a wingsuit landed in a vineyard just north of Lodi Airport” The incident is currently under investigation by the FAA at this time.
A wingsuit is also referred to as a “squirrel suit” or a “birdman suit.” According to a seller of the suit, it is supposed to “increase the skydiver’s surface area to increase lift and allow him/her to fly impressive horizontal distances at a slower descent rate, thus increasing their time in freefall.”
Lodi Parachute Center is celebrating their 57-year anniversary in 2017. According to their website, “The Parachute Center is one of the largest and oldest drop zones in the United States, serving the sport since 1964. We are a family drop zone committed to sharing the skydiving experience. It then claims that Bill and Kathy Davis are the “mother and father of literally 1000’s of skydivers, many of which have gone on to be world champions and legends in their own right.”
Lodi Parachute Center claims to be open 365 days a year if the weather is permitting. Scrolling down, the center boasts about being “the most inexpensive in the world.” It then states, “This is the one and only Parachute Center in Lodi California and nowhere else in the world you can make a skydive and have a personal photographer record your jump for only $199! No one will ever beat that. Period. Tandem only is $125.”
Lodi Parachute Center has a history with accidents resulting in fatalities. According to abc10.com, since August of 2000 there have been 13 deaths at Lodi Parachute Center. In February 2016, a parachute malfunction lead to another skydiving death. In August 2016, a skydiving instructor and student died while performing a tandem jump.
Abc10.com reported on September 2, 2016 that United States Parachute Association investigated the August tandem skydiving incident and determined “people who took courses at the Parachute Center in Lodi were not properly taught and/or certified.”
In May Another incident involved 18 people in a plane that landed upside down in Acampo reportedly came from the Parachute Center. All were on a skydiving trip. The footage was a recorded on a helmet camera.
Going back further to 1981, news stories indicate that there have been at least 18 fatalities at the facility.