Extreme sports star dies in California skydiving accident

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A skier and BASE jumper who regularly appeared on an MTV show about extreme sports was killed after crashing into a tree during a skydiving stunt at a Northern California golf course, authorities said.

Erik Roner, 39, of Tahoe City, died Monday as he performed with other skydivers before a golf tournament in Squaw Valley, about 5 miles from Lake Tahoe’s northwest shore, Placer County sheriff’s Capt. Dennis Walsh said.

Roy Tuscany, a friend of Roner’s, said he watched as two other parachutists landed safely on the golf course’s fairway but then looked on in horror as Roner slammed hard into a tree about 25 to 30 feet above the ground.

He said Roner’s parachute got tangled in the tree and Roner dangled there while many on the ground scrambled to find ladders and other means to get to him. At one point, several people tried to stand on one another’s shoulders to reach him.

“There’s no protocol for this kind of rescue,” Tuscany said. “There’s no manual. It was just horrible.”

Authorities were not able to remove Roner from the tree, and he died at the scene, Walsh said. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the death.

“Erik was a beautiful man, great father, wonderful friend and the love of my life,” his wife, Annika Roner, said in a statement.

Roner’s death comes four months after world-famous wingsuit flyer Dean Potter and fellow adventurer Graham Hunt died after leaping from Taft Point, 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley, and crashing into a ridgeline.

Roner, a professional skier and avid BASE jumper, was known for being part of “Nitro Circus,” an MTV show centered around freestyle motocross rider Travis Pastrana and his friends who are extreme-sports athletes. He also hosted the TV show “Locals” on sports network Outside Television.

“Nitro Circus” ended in 2009 after two seasons. “Nitro Circus Live,” on which Roner also appeared, aired on MTV2 for four seasons until last year, MTV spokeswoman Jennifer Solari said.

“Action sports icon Erik Roner, legendary skier, BASE jumper and a founding member of the Nitro Circus Crew has passed away this morning doing what he loved; sky diving,” said Roner’s manager, Travis Clarke.

BASE jumping stands for leaping from fixed locations including buildings, antenna, spans or Earth.

Tuscany, the friend who witnessed the accident, said Roner was “hilarious” and a “stand-up guy” who could always be counted on to help with benefit events like the golf tournament in Squaw Valley, home of the ski resort that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

The tournament was sponsored by the Squaw Valley Institute, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as being “dedicated to presenting enriching and inspirational programs to the Lake Tahoe region.”

“We are still trying to process this tragedy,” said Rob Faris, a senior vice president at Outside Television. “Our hearts go out to his family.”

Roner is survived by his wife and two children.


Associated Press writer Olga R. Rodriguez contributed to this report.


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