Family wins $40M lawsuit against Lodi skydiving facility after son’s death

California

LODI, Calif. (KTXL) – On Aug. 6, 2016, 18-year-old Tyler Turner of Los Banos celebrated a friend’s birthday at the Skydive Lodi Parachute Center. 

“It’s your first time?” Asked a photographer. 

“First time indeed,” Turner said. 

Before Turner took off, he sent love to his mother.

“That’s my mom over there, very loving mom. Has done a lot for me in my life, hopefully she’ll help me with more in my life because I want to make it,” Turner said. 

Turner’s skydiving adventure would end in tragedy. Both he and his unlicensed instructor would die. 

“The best part is hearing his voice. It just brings me closer to him,” said Francine Turner, Tyler’s mother. 

This week, the Turner family won a $40 million lawsuit against Skydivers Guild Incorporated and its owner, Bill Dause. 

Four-and-a-half years later and the Tyler Turner’s parents are still gushing over their son. 

“What an amazing person he was. He was loved by everyone,” Francine Turner said. 

“He was a great boy, from early on we never needed to discipline him. He was a wonderful child,” said Todd Turner, Tyler’s father. “He had CP (cerebral palsy) but it didn’t stop him from playing in any sport.” 

Paul Van Der Walde represented the family in the lawsuit against the skydiving facility. 

Records show at least 20 people have died there since it opened in 1981. 

Van Der Walde says the suit was about not letting this happen to anyone else in the future. 

“Really shutting down an operation which had a very laissez-faire attitude,” Van Der Walde said. “And the owner decided to stay open following Tyler‘s death and continue jump operations that day.”

The family says the win in court may bring some closure. 

“I think Tyler would have been happy with the way it turned out,” Todd Turner said. 

“We wanted answers. We wanted closure — someone to be responsible. And we got all of that with this case,” Francine Turner added. 

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