Squamish speed flying adventurer dies in fall 

Police confirm accident on the east side of Stawamus Chief Provincial Park

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Tragic fall Jeff Bertoia died when attempting to speed fly from the Stawamus Chief.
  • Photo Submitted
  • Tragic fall Jeff Bertoia died when attempting to speed fly from the Stawamus Chief.

The adventure community is mourning the loss of one of its own — Jeff Bertoia.

The 36-year-old died on Sept.7 while speed flying on the Stawamus Chief — the air sport of flying a small, fast fabric wing usually in close proximity to a steep slope.

Known to his friends as "Jefe", Bertoia recently took up speed flying and really got into it this year.

Sgt. Wayne Pride of the Squamish RCMP said police were called at 4:30 p.m. after Bertoia crashed his paraglider.

He said Bertoia had followed two of his friends who successfully took off from a steep rock face on the Stawamus Chief and landed safely. Bertoia, however, fell in an area to the east of the Stawamus Chief.

"It was an approximate 10-metre fall," said Pride. "The male was deceased at the scene and we had members of search and rescue attend to the scene by helicopter to retrieve the body."

Bertoia had lived for the last three years in a cottage house rented from Brandy Willmot.

"He was part of our family," said Willmot. "He would come down and eat dinner with us, he was a big part of our family."

She added that Bertoia related to everyone, young and old.

"He appealed to all ages," said Willmot. "We have four kids and they just loved him and your parents loved him. It didn't matter who you were or how old you were he always made you feel special."

Fond of children, Willmot said Bertoia was looking forward to fatherhood one day in his life. In working toward that he was squeezing as many adventures as he could.

"Sleep was something that was basically secondary in his life. He just wanted to pack everything that he possibly could into a day and there was no rest," she said.

"He lived 100 years in his 36," Willmot said, while fighting back tears.

A celebration of Bertoia's life is planned for the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 13 at The Living Room in the Garibaldi Springs Executive Suites Hotel and Resort starting at 4 p.m.

A memorial service will be held in Summerland on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. at a yet to be announced location.

Bertoia, who was born in Summerland, is survived by his parents, Robert and Carole, his sister Kristine and nieces Lauren and Amy.


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