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Extreme sports star Erik Roner killed in California skydiving accident

Published 29/09/2015

Erik Roner after a BASE jump in Las Vegas in 2011 (AP)
Erik Roner after a BASE jump in Las Vegas in 2011 (AP)

An extreme sports star skydiving for the opening ceremony of a golf event in California died when he struck a tree.

Placer County sheriff's Captain Dennis Walsh said Erik Roner, of Tahoe City, died on Monday during a skydiving accident at a golf course in Squaw Valley, about 5 miles from Lake Tahoe's north-west shore.

Witnesses said Roner, 39, was part of a group conducting a skydiving performance before a golf tournament when he hit a tree while trying to land and became entangled high above ground.

The a uthorities were not able to remove him from the tree, and Roner was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other skydivers landed safely on the golf course in Squaw Valley, home of the ski resort that hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.

Capt Walsh said the investigation was continuing and the Federal Aviation Administration was notified.

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

Nitro Circus ended in 2009 after two seasons. Nitro Circus Live, where Roner also appeared, aired on MTV2 for four seasons until last year.

"Erik was an amazing person who made everyone and everything around him better," Pastrana said.

Roy Tuscany, a friend of Roner who witnessed the accident, said he watched two other parachutists land safely on the golf course's fairway for the ninth hole but then looked on in horror when Roner slammed hard into a tree about 25 to 30 feet above the ground.

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

"There's no protocol for this kind of rescue," he said. "There's no manual. It was just horrible."

Tuscany said Roner was "hilarious" and was a "stand-up guy" who could always be counted on to help with benefit events like the golf tournament.

The tournament is sponsored by the Squaw Valley Institute, a non-profit organisation that describes itself as being "dedicated to presenting enriching and inspirational programmes 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."

Outside Television will air Locals today in Roner's honour.

Roner's death comes four months after world-famous wingsuit flyer Dean Potter and fellow adventurer Graham Hunt fatally crashed after the pair leaped from Taft Point, 3,500 feet above Yosemite Valley, attempting to clear a V-shaped notch in a ridgeline.

Roner is survived by his wife and two children, according to the Squaw Valley Institute.

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