Officials Identify Skydiver Killed in Lost Prairie Jump

By Beacon Staff

Skydivers will continue to fly over Lost Prairie following a parachuting accident Wednesday that killed a Colorado man.

According to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, Garl “Mike” Newby, 57, of Colorado Springs was part of a group of jumpers that had just finished a formation dive when his main parachute got tangled with another jumper’s main chute.

The surviving jumper was able to remove his main chute and deploy his reserve parachute, the sheriff’s report states. Newby was able to remove his main chute but was unable to deploy his reserve parachute in time.

Newby jumped at 13,000 feet, the report states. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently looking into the accident.

Newby fell while participating in the 43rd annual Lost Prairie Boogie, a nationally recognized jump meet that brings in skydivers from all over the country. The event takes place near Marion, about 30 miles west of Kalispell, and runs from July 24 to Aug. 2.

Event director and Skydive Lost Prairie owner Fred Sand said Newby had been coming to the event for at least a dozen years and was an experienced skydiver who had performed thousands of jumps.

The fatal jump came early in Newby’s visit to Lost Prairie, Sand said.

“It was his first jump of his visit here,” Sand said.

As an extreme sport, skydiving carries certain risks, Sand noted, as do other activities, such as driving on the highway or skiing.

“It pretty much goes without saying that no matter what we’re doing there is risk involved,” Sand said. “It’s part of it.”

The jump meet was temporarily stalled on Thursday due to rainy and cloudy weather, Sand said, but it would proceed as usual once the sun broke through.

There have been two other aviation accidents in Lost Prairie in the past few years. In May of 2007, an airplane crashed shortly after taking off from the Skydive Lost Prairie airstrip, killing all five people on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled “pilot error” as the cause of the crash.

In April 2009, a small plane lost the landing gear off its right side while dropping off skydivers. It was forced to make a crash landing after flying for 90 minutes to burn fuel. The plane landed short of the Skydive Lost Prairie airstrip; the pilot was not injured.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.