Search for Missing Skydiver Continues Near Mt. Si; Narrowed to Half Mile Search Area

**Update: January 5th, 6PM:  At 5:30PM the search was suspended for the day.  It will resume in the morning, Sunday, Jan. 6th.  Expect the possibility of more low-flying helicopters over the Snoqualmie Valley tomorrow.  There were 145 volunteers searching for missing skydiver, Kurt Ruppert of Florida, today.  19 agencies assisted in the search. Ruppert still has not been located. **

** Update: January 5th, 3:30PM:  The search for missing skydiver, Kurt Ruppert, continued today.  Helicopters were heard in the area around 10AM.  King County Sheriff Sergeant, Cindi West, tweeted today that the search area “has been narrowed to area in box based on cell phone info and flight pattern.”  According to Komo News that search area is down to a quarter-mile area.  The photo of that narrowed area around North Bend’s Mt. Si is below. **

Screenshot of picture tweeted of narrowed search area by KCSO PIO, Cindi West

Screenshot of picture tweeted of narrowed search area by KCSO PIO, Cindi West

The King County Sheriff’s Office says the search continues for 29 year-old Lake City, Florida skydiver, Kurt Ruppert.  He’s been missing since yesterday (January 3rd) afternoon when he parachuted out of a helicopter at 6500 feet near Mt. Si.  It’s estimated 40-50 searchers are on the mountain looking for the man.  Yesterday’s sunny skies on Mt. Si deteriorated into thick fog and rain this morning.

The search area is estimated to be at least 5 square miles.  The Sheriff’s Office was able to pinpoint the flight pattern of the helicopter prior to the skydiver jumping, but said that a number of factors make it difficult to locate the skydiver.  He was wearing a “winged suit” and the speed and height of the jump would enable him to travel a large distance in a short amount of time.  Investigators do not know if the man’s parachute was deployed.

The Sheriff’s Office Guardian 2 helicopter is not able to fly because of heavy fog on the mountain.  Additionally, Guardian 1, equipped with a FLIR (thermal imaging) device, is not being used because the search pattern is so large and the vegetation is too thick.

Pilots say the FLIR is best used for small search areas and is not effective in thick brush.  They add that using the FLIR would be like using a magnifying glass to look for a coin lost in a backyard full of vegetation.  The search area is just too large and the forest is too thick to be effective.

This story will be update today as the King County Sheriff Office continues the search.

KC Sheriff helicopter searching near Mt. Si, Thursday evening, 1/3/13.  Photo:  screenshot Komo News

KC Sheriff helicopter searching near Mt. Si, Thursday evening, 1/3/13. Photo: screenshot Komo News

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