ACAMPO — The skydiver who fell to her death Sunday afternoon near the Skydive Lodi Parachute Center was identified Monday.
According to the San Joaquin Coroner’s Office, 62-year-old Nena Lowry Mason from Dillon, Colorado, is the latest skydiver to lose her life at the Lodi Parachute Center.
“She had a malfunction of her main parachute,” said Bill Dause, the center’s owner. “Waited a long time before she got rid of that, we call it a cut-away, and activated her reserve parachute.”
Monday morning, Dause told reporters what happened Sunday afternoon.
“After she cut away, she rolled over to get stable and then activated her reserve parachute. By this time it was too low for it to open,” Dause explained.
Dause says Mason was well known at his drop zone.
“She was jumping with her husband, he was on the same dive. They normally come out here quite frequently,” Dause said. “They have a lot of friends. They originally used to live in this area.”
Mason’s death marks the sixth skydiver death at the Lodi Parachute Center since the beginning of 2016. It was at least the 19th fatality since the center opened in the early 1980s.
“Yes, we’ve had a number of fatalities and I don’t know the exact number,” Dause said. “Each one has been totally unique. It wasn’t like we were doing the same thing along all the time, where the same parachute failed or something like that.”
The Lodi Parachute Center is not certified by the United States Parachute Association — but legally it does not have to be.
The Federal Aviation Administration will be examining Mason’s parachute and investigating if it was packed by a federally approved rigger. Dause says he believes Mason packed her own parachute, calling her very experienced.
“She had about 2,500 jumps and had made three previous jumps the same day and made four yesterday,” he said.
Meanwhile, FOX40 has learned an investigation into the Lodi Parachute Center by the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Transportation is still ongoing. The specifics of that investigation, which was launched earlier this year when federal agents raided Dause’s offices, have not been released.
“They did their investigation, they went away and we haven’t heard anything from them,” Dause told FOX40.
Others in the skydiving community told FOX40 off camera Dause’s center has had problems for years, with one operator even going so far as to say safety has never been a part of the Lodi Parachute Center’s culture.