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Search for Missing Skydiver Suspended

The search was suspended Sunday for Kurt Ruppert Jr., who has been missing since Thursday after he jumped out of a helicopter near Mt. Si.

The search was suspended Sunday for a skydiver missing since Thursday after he jumped out of a helicopter near Mt. Si, according to a King County Sheriff's Office news release.

Over the last four days 386 volunteers from 19 different agencies have searched an area approximately 9 square miles for the missing man, who has been identified as Kurt Ruppert Jr., of Lake City, FL. The Sheriff’s Office helicopter also spent three days searching from the air. Searchers also extensively searched a quarter mile square area that they said was a “potential” area based on cell phone and the helicopter flight path data.

The Sheriff’s Office said they have completed searching the areas that could be reached on foot. There are cliff areas that could not be searched due to the extreme risk to searchers. The Sheriff’s Office said they will search those areas by helicopter when weather permits.

According to posts on Facebook, Ruppert is affiliated with Skydive Palatka and is an avid skydiver.

Glenn Wallace, a spokesman for the nonprofit King County Search and Rescue, which coordinates search efforts in situations such as this, told Patch that searchers had hoped Ruppert used his parachute to construct a shelter or snow cave.

However, Wallace said, searchers had no idea what condition Ruppert was in when he landed after jumping from a helicopter, and he wasn't planning on spending several cold nights on Mt. Si.

Wallace said it appears Ruppert had "a knife and relatively thin suit and long underwear." The most critical question, Wallace said, is what kind of condition Ruppert was in when he came down.

"His family says he's very strong. Some people come out after three, four, five days," Wallace said, adding, "Each day that goes by we are more concerned."

Wallace said that King County Search and Rescue teams search for as long as they are asked by King County.

"No matter who or where we don’t like not finding pople," Wallace said, noting that of 117 missions last year, there were few people searchers didn't locate.

King County Search and Rescue is all volunteer and donor funded, Wallace said. Though the King County Sheriff's Office provides a truck and helicopter, most of the equipment searchers use is funded by private donations. You can donate to the association through its website.

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