The search for a skydiver reported missing in the Cascade foothills east of Seattle resumed Friday, with a search area of five square miles.
The King County Sheriff's Office said the missing man is Kurt Ruppert, a 29-year-old from Florida. Searchers hope he alive but stuck in a tree or hunkered down, waiting for help.
Weather is a concern. It was cold and rainy overnight and the man was not prepared to spend the night on the mountain.
A helicopter pilot reported about 2:30 p.m. Thursday that a skydiver had jumped from the aircraft but failed to show up at a landing zone near Mount Si.
The King County Sheriff's Office said the skydiver 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 don't know if his parachute ever deployed.
A Thursday search was called off when it got dark. The search resumed at the Mt. Si trailhead Friday. The sheriff's office estimates 40-to-50 searchers are on the mountain looking for the man.
The search area is estimated to be at least five square miles. The sheriff's office said it has been 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 know where the skydiver might be.
King County's Guardian 2 helicopter couldn't assist Friday due to heavy fog. Guardian 1, which has a thermal imaging camera, would not be used in such a search because the search pattern is so large and the vegetation is so thick, said the sheriff's office. They compared it to using a magnifying glass to find a coin lost in a backyard full of vegetation.
The pilot said three men were alternating going up in the helicopter to jump, with one jumping while the others waited at the landing zone. The pilot said the men were jumping from about 6,500 feet. Sheriff's spokesperson Cindi West said the line of sight was blocked for the men at the landing zone so they did not see their companion jump.
No other details about the skydivers or pilot were released.