Montana News

Aug 1, 2011 10:53 AM by Laura Wilsonv- KAJ News

Fatal Montana skydiving accident investigation continues

MARION - The investigation continues into a skydiving incident that claimed the life of a Washington State man at Lost Prairie over the weekend.

Investigators headed to Lost Prairie again on Sunday to try and determine why a 27-year-old man's parachute never deployed before he landed in a field.

Authorities say that it doesn't appear that Zack Fogle of Kingston, Washington attempted to open his parachute during one of his jumps on Saturday afternoon.

A small computerized device is programmed to deploy a back-up parachute if the person wearing it does not open the first one. But authorities say the second shoot never opened because the device was turned off.

"It requires activation immediately before boarding the aircraft, preceding the jump. So, if there's a lot of excitement or activity or any distractions, it could be something that would be overlooked," Flathead County Undersheriff Jordan White said.

Fogle was among a large group of skydivers participating in the Annual Lost Prairie Skydiving Boogie in Marion. He was a quadriplegic, with limited mobility or function in such extremities. But authorities say all of his equipment was current in inspections and he had about five years of experience.

"He had over 125 jumps. He was doing a solo jump, as a certified skydiver. He certainly had a lot of experience, and was not over his head with the type of activity that he was in," White said.

Fogle is the seventh person in less than five years to die of a skydiving-related accident at the Lost Prairie site.
"I'd say in general for this type of sport, it's not uncommon to have a few incidents that occur that do result in a significant loss. In this case, there's very low margin for error," said White.

The investigation also indicated appropriate safety procedures and policies were being followed before and after the accident.

The last person to die in a sky-diving accident at Lost Prairie was a 57-year-old man from Colorado who died during the Flathead event last year.

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