Lawsuit against Lodi skydiving facility linked to a dozen deaths reveals disturbing practices

The family's attorney says there have been over a dozen deaths at the infamous Lodi parachute center.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021
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A Los Banos family has won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the skydiving facility owner they say is responsible for their son Tyler Turner's death.

LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) -- After four years of fighting, a North Valley family is finally getting justice.

The parents of Tyler Turner, who died skydiving at the Lodi Parachute Center in 2016, just won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the facility owner.

Attorney for the family, Paul Van Der Walde, said a judge at the San Joaquin Superior Court ruled in favor of the Turners on Tuesday.

He cites a series of issues and said the owner of the facility, William Dause, would create new corporations to allegedly avoid liabilities he'd incur, one of which was a million-dollar fine.

Van Der Walde said there have been over a dozen deaths at the parachute center run by Dause.

"He carries no insurance, undercapitalized. He creates organizations to avoid liability and makes this a complex litigation. This also follows him around, and it is my intention to not rest if he keeps creating new corporations," Van Der Walde said.

Van Der Walde said the instructor who jumped with Turner was not certified and claimed his papers were forged.

RELATED: Instructor killed along with Lodi teen in skydiving accident wasn't certified

On the day of the tragedy, the attorney said Dause refused to stop operations.

"He kept operations going and allowed the jumpers to keep going, and told Francine - 'You don't see them shut the freeway down when there's an accident'," he said.

Tyler's mother Francine remembers that tragic day, saying her son knelt on the tarmac to say his prayers, embraced her, and told her he loved her before getting on the plane.

But his name lives on.

Turner fought at the Capitol to get the state to pass Tyler's Law, which makes the operator responsible for ensuring instructors are certified and parachutes are properly packed while allowing victims to sue skydiving companies if they fall out of compliance.

RELATED: New law signed in memory of Los Banos teen killed in skydiving accident

The Turners say their son was caring and aspired to become a biomedical engineer at UC Merced.

His parents say while their biggest hurdle is behind them, they are finding new ways to keep their son's memory alive.

"His family and friends would like to establish a long-term scholarship for those same kids with the dreams my son had. We will not stop fighting and trying to make a difference," said

Action News reached out to William Dause, who declined to comment.

Van Der Walde said he believes Dause is now running a skydiving business under a new name and plans to go after that business to avoid another tragedy.