A high school tennis coach from San Jose, Tyler Nii, is presumed dead following a skydiving accident last week. Mr. Nii, 27, was participating in the sport for the first time. According to friends, he has always had an avid interest in sports which is what led him to want to try skydiving.
He additionally was passionate about traveling and had recently visited London and Madrid before heading to New Zealand where he embarked on his fateful jump.
Officials reported that it was during a tandem jump when Nii and the skydiving instructor suffered a mishap that saw them plunge into the freezing waters of Lake Wakatipu. The officials stated that they responded to a distress call saying that two male skydivers had entered the water at around 1:40 pm on January 10th.
The instructor was located by individuals who had heard an SOS call that had gone out over the radio. They made attempts to recover Mr. Nii, but he became submerged before they could reach him. The divers with the New Zealand National police searched for Mr. Nii but could not find him. It is presumed that at the start of the jump, Nii had been secured to his tandem instructor by a harness. However, according to experts, it is common practice for skydivers to separate from one another in the event of a crash. Per media reports both of the men had been wearing life jackets but at the time of this article, it is undetermined whether they were functioning effectively.
Mr. Nii’s tandem instructor was taken to a local hospital and received only minor bruising from the accident.
Following the recovery of the instructor, officials continued to search the lake for Mr. Nii. More than 10 water going vessels aided in the search.
As of the latest reports, Mr. Nii has yet to be recovered. Lake Wakatipu, located close to Queenstown is rumored to be roughly 250 meters deep and police divers have been utilizing sonar in an attempt to find his remains. Police Inspector Olaf Jensen has indicated the depth of the Lake is making the search difficult. He said, “The operation is a very complex one given the depth of Lake Wakatipu.”
He indicated, however, that officials and the dive team are are dedicated to doing everything possible to try and locate Mr. Nii. “The search team is committed to finding Tyler and our thoughts are with his family at this time,“ he said.
Mr. Niis friends, family, and coworkers have said that he was a kind and patient person who will be tremendously missed.
His family has indicated that while in college he coached youth basketball and tennis which ultimately translated to his job as a high school tennis coach.
His mother, Nancy Nii said of her son, “He always amazed us at how good he was with these kids, and how positive and encouraging he was with them.”
Mrs. Nii said that the family is still in shock following the skydiving accident. They have since traveled to New Zealand in hopes of bringing Tyler’s body home.
On Thursday, Mr. Nii’s family and local police officials visited Lake Wakatipu to say a blessing for Tyler.
The family has requested privacy at this time.
There is no official word on the cause of the accident.
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