Extreme sports star killed in Calif. skydiving accident
Squaw Valley, Calif. — An extreme sports and MTV star skydiving for the opening ceremony of a golf event in Northern California died when he struck a tree Monday, authorities said.
Placer County Sheriff’s Capt. Dennis Walsh said Erik Roner of Tahoe City, California, died during a skydiving accident at a golf course in Squaw Valley, California, about 5 miles from Lake Tahoe’s northwest shore.
Witnesses told deputies Roner, 39, was part of a group conducting a skydiving performance for a golf event, when he hit a tree while trying to land and became entangled high above ground, Walsh said.
Authorities were not able to remove him from the tree and Roner was pronounced dead at the scene.
All the other skydivers landed safely, he said.
Walsh said the investigation is continuing and the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.
Roner, a professional skier and avid BASE jumper, was known for being part of the Nitro Circus, an MTV show centered around freestyle motocross rider Travis Pastrana and his crew of extreme sports athlete friends. He also hosted TV show “Locals” on sports network Outside Television.
“Erik was an amazing person who made everyone and everything around him better,” Pastrana said.
Roy Tuscany, a friend of Roner, who witnessed the accident said it occurred right before a celebrity golf tournament was about to begin Monday morning.
Tuscany said that he watched as two other parachutists landed safely on the golf course’s fairway for the 9th hole but then looked on in horror when Roner slammed hard into a tree about 25-30 feet above the ground.
He said Roner’s parachute got caught in the tree and Roner dangled there while many on the ground scrambled to find ladders and other means to get to him. At one point, several people attempted to stand on one another’s shoulder to reach him.
“There’s no protocol for this kind of rescue,” Tuscany said. “There’s no manual. It was just horrible.”
Tuscany described his friend Roner as “always positive” and a “big supporter” of the local community.
He said Roner was “hilarious and was a “stand-up guy” who could always be counted on to help out with benefit events like the golf tournament sponsored by the Squaw Valley Institute, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as being “dedicated to presenting enriching and inspirational programs to the Lake Tahoe region.”
“We are still trying to process this tragedy,” said Rob Faris, senior VP, programming and production at Outside Television. “Our hearts go out to his family.”
Outside Television will air “Locals” from 7 to 11 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
Roner’s death comes four months after world-famous wingsuit flyer Dean Potter and fellow adventurer Graham Hunt fatally crashed after the pair leaped from Taft Point, 3,500-feet above Yosemite Valley, attempting to clear a V-shaped notch in a ridgeline.
Roner is survived by his wife and two children, according to the Squaw Valley Institute.