Skydiver still missing in Washington state

Jan. 5, 2013 at 9:52 PM

NORTH BEND, Wash., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- A skydiver from Florida was still missing Saturday, three days after leaping from a helicopter over a rugged area of Washington state, authorities said.

The King County Sheriff's Office said searchers had narrowed down the area where they were looking for Kurt Ruppert, 29, of Palatka, Fla., based on information from his cellphone and flight pattern, The Seattle Times reported.

More than 130 volunteers from 19 agencies, aided by search dogs, scoured the targeted area Saturday, WTLV-WJXX, Jacksonville, Fla., reported.

Ruppert was wearing a web-design wingsuit when he jumped from a height of 6,500 feet near Mount Si in North Bend Thursday.

The TV stations said investigators said two of Ruppert's friends were waiting for him in the landing zone, but had their line of sight blocked so they did not see him jump and don't know if his parachute deployed. They described him as a very experienced skydiver with more than a thousand jumps to his credit.

Art Shaffer, owner of Skydive Palatka, said sometimes things happen that a skydiver can't control, but Ruppert "wouldn't have done anything outlandish."

"I'm pretty sure he's out there and maybe just can't walk, but he's a strong guy, pretty resilient and resourceful so I'm pretty sure he's still alive," Shaffer said. "We just have to find him."

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