Skydiving instructor drowns in Lake Butte des Morts

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WITI) -- A man killed in a skydiving incident had thousands of jumps under his belt, before he ended up in Lake Butte des Morts on Tuesday, July 9th. Two skydivers taking part in a tandem jump were blown about a mile-and-a-half off course, landing in the water near the Leonard Point Road boat launch. The skydiver's student swam to shore safely, but the skydiving instructor's body was eventually discovered by crews in the water.

The jump from Skydive Adventure in Omro Tuesday was one of more than 5,000 for 55-year-old instructor Paul Olsen.

"He had some experience, however the environment was such that it put him in a very precarious position," Winnebago County Sheriff's Lieutenant Steven Verweil said.

Strong winds carried Olsen and his student 500 yards offshore in Lake Butte des Morts. An autopsy shows Olsen drowned.

"I believe weather played a big role in this. I recall prior to being notified about it, about that time frame a pretty large storm cell moving into the area," Verweil said.

The FAA is investigating -- and will be looking at how the main and reserve chutes were packed. The FAA will also investigate whether the pilot was licensed and up to date on qualifications.

Finally, the agency will look at the rules of flight associated with the jump. That could include how the pilot, skydivers and the company reacted to the weather conditions at the time of the jump.

Investigators say they also plan to review communications between the air traffic control tower in Milwaukee and the pilot as part of the investigation. They say that could take several more days to complete.

According to the United States Parachute Association, parachuting is a relatively safe sport. In 2012, out of more than three million jumps, there were 19 fatalities -- an average of one death in every 163,000 jumps.

The Association also says tandem jumps have even fewer fatalities.