FREDERICK, Oklahoma – A skydiver from central Illinois was killed earlier this week while taking part in a demonstration jump in Oklahoma to honor World War II paratroopers, authorities said.
Jim Yost, 69, died from blunt force injuries after his parachute malfunctioned, Oklahoma medical examiner’s office spokeswoman Amy Elliott said, adding that it was an accident.
Yost, a funeral director from Champaign, Illinois, was taking part in the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team’s semiannual jump school near Frederick. Members of the team honor veterans by participating in jumps that are modeled after paratroopers’ jumps during the war.
Team members didn’t immediately respond to an email sent to their website.
The team’s command officer told The News-Gazette in Champaign that Yost – a retired U.S. Army captain who served in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 505th Paratroop Infantry Regiment during the Vietnam War – was experienced at parachuting. He had completed 36 jumps while on active duty and about 10 jumps with the demonstration team.
Col. Raymond Steeley also said he was surprised the preliminary cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma, because medical personnel at the scene said Yost was in cardiac arrest.
“What aggravates me is, Jim Yost would be severely [irked] right now by the implication that he was not doing something right,” Steeley said. “He did everything that he was supposed to have.”
Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington said his office and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the death.