A 51-year-old Las Vegas man died in a sky diving accident at the Jean Airport Saturday after his parachute folded when he got caught in strong winds, the Clark County coroner said Sunday.
Coroner Mike Murphy identified the deceased man as Richard Frazer, who jumped out of a plane about 10,000 feet off the ground.
Murphy said Frazer’s parachute opened but as he was approaching the ground he got caught in what is commonly known as a dust devil, a strong whirlwind that caused Frazer’s parachute to lose lift or fold, and sent him plunging to his death.
“It appears to be a weather condition and not an equipment failure,” Murphy said.
He added that Frazer died sometime between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Murphy did not know how high off the ground Frazer was when he got caught in the dust devil.
Jean is about 30 miles south of Las Vegas.
An emailed press release sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal by Brad Wedge said the sky-dive was uneventful until at about 75 feet above ground when a “freak gust of wind” changed the sky diver’s parachute flight angle to straight to the ground.
The sky diver then hit the ground at high impact, the email said.
Wedge is described on the website for the Sin City Skydiving business as an instructor with 17 years experience. Wedge has made more than 15,000 dives, the website said.
Wedge’s email said the deceased sky diver is survived by many family and friends.
When reached for comment, he declined to say anything other than what was in the press release.
Dust devils are a weather phenomenon that looks like little tornadoes but are really small whirlwinds that sweep up dust as they move .
Sky diving accidents causing death, although rare, have occurred in Southern Nevada.
In October 2011, two sky divers, one in her 70s, died in Mesquite after their parachute failed to open properly.
Killed in the accident were Claudette Porter, 75, and her skydiving instructor James Fonnesbeck, 60.
Fonnesbeck and Porter jumped in tandem, and their main chute did not deploy, Mesquite police said.
Fonnesbeck opened a backup parachute, but it was tangled and only slowed the pair minimally before they struck the runway at the Mesquite Municipal Airport.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.