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Search for Fla. skydiver missing in Wash. on hold

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm •  Published: January 4, 2013

SEATTLE (AP) — Dozens of searchers on Friday failed to find a skydiver who's been missing since he jumped out of a helicopter at 6,500 feet in the Cascade foothills east of Seattle.

The search for Kurt Ruppert, 29, of Lake City, Fla., was suspended when darkness fell Friday evening, and efforts to locate him will resume Saturday, said King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West.

When Ruppert jumped Thursday afternoon, he was wearing a special wing suit with fabric under the arms to allow him to glide like a flying squirrel.

Searchers were hoping Ruppert was stuck in a tree with his parachute or perhaps lost in rugged state-owned land around 4,200-foot Mount Si, West said.

Authorities know the flight pattern of the aircraft, but a number of factors have made it difficult to find Ruppert. West said she was told wing suit flyers don't deploy parachutes until they reach an altitude of 2,000 feet.

"The speed and height of the jump would enable him to travel a large distance in a short amount of time," West said.

About four-dozen people began searching for Ruppert on Thursday, then resumed the effort at daybreak Friday in a 5-square-mile area that includes Mount Si, which is covered with trees on steep slopes. It's popular with hikers even though it can be treacherous.

"We've got a lot of search and rescues up here every year," West said. "It's dangerous and difficult. The footing is bad and there are lots of cliffs."

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