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Lodi skydiving school to pay $40M over death of 18-year-old

The teen and skydiving instructor he was jumping in tandem with died after plummeting 13,000 feet to the ground when the instructor couldn't open their parachutes.

LODI, Calif. — The family of an 18-year-old man who died in 2016 after his parachute didn’t open has been awarded a $40 million judgment. 

The attorney representing the family of Tyler Turner of Los Banos, California, said Wednesday the multimillion-dollar penalty is significant not only because of the amount but because it specifically targets the owner of the skydiving school Skydivers Guild Inc. in Lodi. 

Turner and the skydiving instructor he was jumping in tandem with died after plummeting 13,000 feet (3,900 meters) to the ground when the instructor couldn't open their parachutes.

Following the fatal tandem skydiving accident, the United States Parachute Association concluded some people who took courses at the Parachute Center in Lodi were not properly taught and/or certified.

USPA officials noted certain courses may have been abbreviated or incomplete, and people did not meet initial qualifications.

Two years later, 62-year-old Nina Lowry Mason of Dillon, Colorado, died at the Lodi Parachute Center. Investigators say Mason died after her parachute failed to deploy during a jump at the Skydive Lodi Parachute Center. She had completed more than 2,500 jumps before the incident over the past few decades, including three earlier in the day before something went terribly wrong. 

The school's owner, Bill Dause, declined to comment. 

The Lodi Parachute Center, open since 1964, is no stranger to tragedy. Dause has been in charge for nearly four decades and he says he doesn't keep track of the total number of deaths, but he believes up to 18 people have died here since the year 2000.

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