Search efforts continue for missing skydiver



NORTH BEND, Wash. - Crews are continuing to search near Mount Si for a missing skydiver who was last seen Thursday after he jumped out of a helicopter.


About 80 search and rescue workers met at the Mount Si Trailhead command post Saturday morning to prepare to look for 29-year-old Kurt Ruppert, of Florida, in a five-mile area.


The King County Sheriff’s Office said Ruppert jumped from a helicopter Thursday afternoon, but never made it to the landing zone.


Investigators believe Ruppert jumped 6,500 feet while wearing a winged-suit, which allowed him to soar and glide. He was supposed to pull his parachute, but they don’t know if his parachute opened.


A search team with the Sheriff’s Office looked for Ruppert until dark Thursday evening, and they continued their search Friday. When crews scoured the area, weather was a problem for searchers.


 Ruppert is known to be an experienced skydiver who has jumped numerous times, but he is not equipped for overnight temperatures in the 30s.


Friends of Ruppert told KIRO 7 Eyewitness reporter Alison Grande that he is smart, resourceful, tough and level-headed and they hope that strength will keep him alive.


“We’re all anxious to hear he’s OK,” said friend Art Shaffer.


Crews told KIRO 7 reporter Frank Field many factors are making the search for Ruppert more difficult. The terrain in the wide area of Mount Si is rugged, with steep slopes and cliffs, and it's covered with trees.


The Sheriff’s Office plans to get a helicopter up to search the wooded area on Saturday.