Search Area Narrowed As Rescuers Hold Out Hope Skydiver is Alive

About 145 search and rescue volunteers were scouring a quarter-mile square area just south of Mount Si's West Peak for Kurt Ruppert Jr. from Florida, who has been missing since jumping from a helicopter Thursday.


About 145 search and rescue personnel were scouring a rugged quarter-mile area just south of Mount Si’s West Peak near North Bend Saturday for a skydiver from Florida who has been missing since Thursday after jumping from a helicopter.

The search area was narrowed from a 5-square mile area Friday to an area of about one-quarter square mile Saturday based on information from the helicopter pilot, the skydiver’s flight pattern and cell phone signals, said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s still a big area,” she said. “We don’t want to get peoples' hopes up.”

No signal has been coming from the cell phone since Thursday. But authorities were still holding out hope the skydiver -- Kurt Ruppert Jr., of Lake City, FL -- was alive even though he has been outside for two cold nights.

“We’re not calling it a recovery,” West said. “We’re still calling it a rescue. Granted, it’s been two nights and it has been cold. But we know he’s a strong man who could be huddled in his parachute waiting to be rescued and that we’ll find him.”

Dozens of search and rescue volunteers from many areas of Western Washington and as far away as Yakima were searching from an operations base at the Little Mount Si trailhead just outside North Bend. ‘We’ve got 19 different agencies searching, from Central Washington, Tacoma, Seattle, Snohomish County,” said West. “We really want to find him."

The King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian Two had been involved in the search early Saturday, but fog and strong winds near the peaks of Mount Si prevented it from flying most of the day.

For previous Patch stories on the rescue, click here.

Jeanne Gustafson January 06, 2013 at 12:51 AM
King County Search and Rescue reported that searchers were starting to come back in from the field, after a day of searching in the cold, fueled by Metro buses to warm up and hot soup provided by the Soup Ladies of Black Diamond. As dark descended, just before 5 p.m., no word yet of finding Kurt Ruppert.
Greg Johnston January 06, 2013 at 01:57 AM
The latest tweet from the King County Sheriff's Office: 530p search suspended for the night for missing skydiver. Will resume in a.m.
Lori Harley January 06, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Lake City appreciates all of the rescue and search efforts. We are praying for a positive outcome. Kurt is a strong, kind and intelligent young man. If anyone could survive, it will be Kurt! Please keep trying!
Jeanne Gustafson January 06, 2013 at 03:19 AM
Thanks for your comment, Lori. We are all in--just as if Kurt was our own neighbor, friend, family member--and King County search volunteers (and all the others who have donated their talents) are extremely dedicated and passionate.


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