FBI raids Lodi Parachute Center, confiscates waivers, receipts and video footage

Federal agents executed a search warrant this week on the Lodi Parachute Center, the site of multiple skydiving fatalities in recent years.

Gina Swankie, spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Sacramento, said the FBI on Tuesday “conducted warrant activity at that address,” but that no other information could be provided.

According to a report in the Lodi News-Sentinel, center owner Bill Dause said several federal agencies were involved in the raid, including the Federal Aviation Administration, which is responsible for parachute safety.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Chuck Winn, who represents the area that includes the facility, told The Bee he welcomed the probe.

“I’m sure it’s an in-depth investigation,” he said. “I trust them to do their job.”

While there is no official count of skydiving fatalities related to the center, a review of news stories shows that at least 20 people have died flying out of Lodi Parachute Center since 1981.

The center periodically has found itself under federal investigation, including a yearlong FAA probe into the tandem sky-dive that killed instructor Yong Kwon, 25, of South Korea and Tyler Nicholas Turner, 18, of Los Banos in August 2016.

The agency concluded its investigation by saying it found no violations specifically by the Parachute Center, despite the fact that the flight involved a non-certified instructor.

The agency’s decision led a Stockton lawmaker to introduce legislation that would allow people to file civil lawsuits for violations of federal parachuting regulations.

Over the years, Dause repeatedly has denied any responsibility on his part for fatalities at the center.

He told the News-Sentinel that agents confiscated records from his business.

“They took a lot of stuff – waivers people signed when they made jumps, cash register receipts, credit card receipts, a lot of video footage,” Dause said

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