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Thread: Smokejumping in Two States Halted After Fatality

  1. #1
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Smokejumping in Two States Halted After Fatality

    Smokejumping in Two States Halted After Fatality


    Smokejumpers in Alaska and Idaho are temporarily suspending all parachute activities until investigators find out why a 28-year-old man's chute failed to open during training Saturday, Apr. 29.

    The man, David J. Liston, of Girdwood and Rainbow Valley, whose name was released Sunday by the Bureau of Land Management, fell to his death at a training exercise on Fort Wainwright. Fellow smokejumpers came to his aid but to no avail.

    "I wouldn't say it would be unusual to take such a step given the uncertainty of the nature of the malfunction," said Alaska Fire Service information officer Andy Williams.

    A national investigating team is looking into the cause. Liston was among 68 smokejumpers in the state. The specially trained firefighters are the first to respond to remote fires by parachuting into the area.

    Williams said he didn't know how long the ban would go on but that U.S. Forest Service smokejumpers, who use a different type of parachute, could jump into fires for the time being.

    "There's nothing to stop smokejumpers from going on helicopters or taking ground transportation to fires," Williams said.

    Liston, a smokejumper since 1998, came to Alaska from Oregon in 1995 to work with the fire service, said a BLM statement. His wife, Kristin, works for the fire service.

    Official BLM Press Release
    Smokejumper Identified in Fatal Accident

    FORT WAINWRIGHT -- The Alaska Smokejumper who died after a parachuting accident here Saturday was identified as David J. Liston, 28.

    Liston, a smokejumper with the BLM Alaska Fire Service since 1998, was making a practice jump to prepare for the fire season when his parachute failed to open. He was treated at the scene by fellow smokejumpers trained as emergency medical technicians and taken by ambulance to Bassett Army Hospital. Attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

    A national serious accident investigation team is en route to AFS facilities at Fort Wainwright Sunday to conduct an investigation. Further information about the accident was unavailable pending arrival of the team.

    Liston, a resident of Girdwood and Rainbow Valley during the winter, was originally from Oregon. He first came to work with the Alaska Fire Service in 1995 as a member of the Midnight Sun Hot Shot Crew. He worked with the Midnight Suns in 1995 and 1996, and was a squad boss with the North Star Fire Crew in 1997. He rookied with the Alaska Smokejumpers in 1998.

    His wife, Kristin, also works with AFS. His mother and stepfather live in Gladstone, Ore., and his father and stepmother live in Bend, Ore.

    "Wildland firefighters are a close-knit community, and we are saddened by David's death," said AFS Manager Scott Billing. "We have temporarily suspended all parachute operations while the investigation is underway."

    Original Story, Sunday, Apr. 30

    An Alaska Fire Service smokejumper died during a Fort Wainwright parachute training exercise about 5 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 29, said a fire service information officer.

    The smokejumper's name could not be released pending family notification.

    The man's parachute failed to open as he was parachuting over an area north of River Road at a common smokejumper training ground, said Andy Williams, a nine-year veteran information officer with the fire service.

    Investigators do not yet know why the parachute failed.

    Williams said fellow smokejumpers parachuting during the training exercise came to the person's aid--the firefighters are also trained in emergency medical care. An ambulance took the mortally wounded smokejumper to Bassett Army Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

    Williams, who was audibly shaken, said this is the first smokejumper fatality in Alaska since the 1970s.

    The firefighter was one of 68 in the state.

    Smokejumpers are the first to respond to remote fires. They fly there by plane and parachute to the fire.

    More investigators, some from the Lower 48, are expected to travel to Fairbanks to investigate incident.

    "We're going to try to find out what happened and go through every procedure to make sure something like this doesn't happen again," Williams said.

    Funeral and Memorial Information

    David Liston was born on April 17, 1972 in Portland, Ore. He started working in Alaska in 1995 and rookied with the Alaska Smokejumpers in 1998.

    The David Liston Memorial Account has been set up at the Ft. Wainwright Federal Credit Union.

    You can send donations to:

    In Memory of David Liston
    Ft. Wainwright Federal Credit Union
    Attn: Tracy Jessen
    P.O. Box 35025
    Ft. Wainwright, AK 99703

    Flowers and cards can be sent to,

    Kristin Liston
    280 East Birch Hill Rd.
    Fairbanks, AK 99712

    Alaska Smokejumpers
    1513 Gaffney Rd.
    Ft. Wianwright, AK 99703

    There will be a two Memorial Services held,

    Wednesday May 3, 2000
    4:30 p.m. at the Big Spot on Birch Hill
    Ft. Wainwright, Alaska

    Saturday May 6, 2000
    Camp Sherman, Allingham Gaurd Station
    Natolieous River, near Sisters, Oregon

    If you need any further information please contact the Alaska Smokejumpers at (907) 356-5540 or 1-800-237-3658.

  2. #2
    Registered User SeaBreeze's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    Liston, David John

    Age: 28
    Rank: Smokejumper
    Status: Career
    Incident Date: 04/29/2000
    Incident Time: 16:45
    Death Date: 04/29/2000

    Cause of Death: Struck By/Contact with Object
    Nature of Death: Internal Trauma
    Emergency Duty: No
    Duty Type: Training
    Activity Type: Other
    Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

    Fire Dept. Info:
    BLM Alaska Fire Service
    P.O. Box 35005
    Ft. Wainwright, Alaska 99703
    Chief: Scott Billing

    Final Summary:
    Smokejumper Liston was participating in mandatory annual recertification practice parachute jumps in preparation for the upcoming wildland season. He had completed three jumps. During the fourth jump of the day, Smokejumper Liston

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