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Search Area Narrowed As Rescuers Hold Out Hope Skydiver is Alive

About 145 search and rescue volunteers were scouring a quarter-mile square area just south of Mount Si's West Peak for Kurt Ruppert Jr. from Florida, who has been missing since jumping from a helicopter Thursday.

About 145 search and rescue personnel were scouring a rugged quarter-mile area just south of Mount Si’s West Peak near North Bend Saturday for a skydiver from Florida who has been missing since Thursday after jumping from a helicopter.

The search area was narrowed from a 5-square mile area Friday to an area of about one-quarter square mile Saturday based on information from the helicopter pilot, the skydiver’s flight pattern and cell phone signals, said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“That’s still a big area,” she said. “We don’t want to get peoples' hopes up.”

No signal has been coming from the cell phone since Thursday. But authorities were still holding out hope the skydiver -- Kurt Ruppert Jr., of Lake City, FL -- was alive even though he has been outside for two cold nights.

“We’re not calling it a recovery,” West said. “We’re still calling it a rescue. Granted, it’s been two nights and it has been cold. But we know he’s a strong man who could be huddled in his parachute waiting to be rescued and that we’ll find him.”

Dozens of search and rescue volunteers from many areas of Western Washington and as far away as Yakima were searching from an operations base at the Little Mount Si trailhead just outside North Bend. ‘We’ve got 19 different agencies searching, from Central Washington, Tacoma, Seattle, Snohomish County,” said West. “We really want to find him."

The King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian Two had been involved in the search, but fog and strong winds near the peaks of Mount Si prevented it from flying Saturday.

For previous Patch stories on the rescue, click here.

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