The skydiver who lost his life attempting an advanced high-speed maneuvre Sunday in Nanoose Bay has been identified as 34-year-old James Smith from Victoria.
Gord Gauvin, a close friend of Smith’s and the owner of Skydive Vancouver Island, said Smith was a beloved husband and father of two, who was was an avid skydiver with more than 1,000 completed jumps to his credit.
“He was a pretty dynamic and a very experienced skydiver,” said Gauvin. “He was very passionate about skydiving and is full of energy. The maneuvre that caused his untimely death is something he has done hundreds of times before. He fully trained on it without accident.”
Smith was finishing off his jump with an aggressive landing called swooping. Gauvin said a miscalculation in the speed, angle of attack and landing resulted in Smith’s death. He died instantly.
The BC Coroners Service and WorkSafeBC are investigating the incident.
Gauvin said that skydiving is safe activity and shouldn’t be given a negative impression because of what happened.
“It wasn’t about shoddy equipment, it wasn’t poor safety practices or anything like that,” said Gauvin. “It’s like race car driver when hits the car on a wall in Indianapolis, does that reflect poorly on car racing? Probably not. It’s something that happens. The fact is, the equipment is used in skydiving is the safest that’s ever been.”
The small tight-knitted skydiving community on Vancouver Island is mourning the passing of one of their dear members, said Gauvin.
“There’s probably 40 or 50 of us and we all know each other and are very close friends as we spend a lot of time together,” said Gauvin. “So we’re all grieving a lot for our friend.”