The Lodi Parachute Center is no stranger to fatalities.
Since 1981, the controversial skydiving location has been connected to approximately 21 deaths, according to The Sacramento Bee. Five of these deaths have come after 2016.
While skydiving is commonly seen as a risky activity, statistics show it isn’t as dangerous as some may think. In 2018, the United States Parachute Association recorded only 13 fatal skydiving accidents in the U.S. out of an estimated 3.3 million jumps.
If skydiving deaths are so rare, then why is there so much tragedy tied to this one establishment?
Aside from the Lodi Parachute Center, local skydiving locations include Skydive California in Tracy and Bay Area Skydiving in Byron. Neither of those businesses have a mounting death toll, despite both having been in operation for years.
On Sept. 26, Maria Robledo Vallejo, a 28-year-old Colombian woman, became the latest skydiver to lose their life at the Lodi Parachute Center.
Vallejo, an experienced skydiver, had completed more than 150 successful jumps prior to her death.
When Bill Dause, owner of the Lodi Parachute Center, was questioned by reporters about the incident, he said Vallejo going “that far downwind” was “a decision she made” and the weather shouldn’t have had an effect on someone with her level of experience.
Dause should have been more sympathetic.
In 2016, 20 instructors were suspended and 140 others were told they needed to undergo more training after an investigation by the United States Parachute Association.
In addition, the association decided to revoke Dause’s membership.
In 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the facility. While no arrests were made, agents were seen leaving with boxes of evidence, such as waivers and receipts.
With all of the controversy surrounding the Lodi Parachute Center in recent years, it’s shocking it has managed to stay in business.
It’s even more shocking that there are people who opt to go skydiving at a place with such a checkered past.
There are plenty of other skydiving locations in Northern California one can go to, locations where there haven’t been multiple deaths, instructors without proper training or FBI raids.
Knowing this information, skydivers should steer clear of the facility.