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Man Sentenced In Deaths Of Two Parachuters Former Head Of Skydiving Company Pleads Guilty To Criminally Negligent Homicide

ASSOCIATED PRESS A former skydiving company operator was sentenced Thursday to five months in jail on each of two counts stemming from the deaths of two parachuters.

Ted Mayfield, the former operator of Sheridan Sky Sports, pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of Charles Schaefer and 85-year-old Lee Perry.

The two were among 13 people killed in parachuting accidents in the 22 years Sheridan Sky Sports operated at the Sheridan Airport.

Yamhill County Circuit Court Judge John L. Collins also ordered Mayfield, 59, to have no further involvement with the sky diving industry. Mayfield also must serve three years probation for each crime and pay restitution of $5,675.

Schaefer, 33, a veteran skydiver, was killed Sept. 3, 1993, when his parachute failed to open. Prosecutors said Mayfield had supplied Schaefer with a backup parachute opening device that he knew was defective.

Perry fell to his death Feb. 12, 1994, while making his first parachute jump. Prosecutors said that a line meant to automatically open Perry’s parachute was improperly installed and failed to work.

Sheriff’s deputies seized Mayfield’s equipment on Feb. 11, 1994, and Mayfield gave Perry borrowed equipment that did not have a student safety device.

When Mayfield learned that Perry had died, he ordered that a videotape of the jump be erased and told several witnesses to lie about how the equipment had malfunctioned, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Parachute Association had suspended Mayfield’s instructor’s rating a month before Perry’s death.

Mayfield contended that the number of deaths at his center was not unusual considering the number of jumps performed there.

The U.S. Parachute Association said Mayfield’s center would have had to have more than 49,000 jumps a year to remain within the fatality average of one death in every 84,000 jumps.

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