Timy Dutton, a professional skier and BASE jumper from Squaw Valley, California, died yesterday in a mid-air skydiving collision in Lodi, California. News reports say that Dutton hit his skydiving partner at a high-impact speed about 30 seconds after he jumped out of the plane. He never deployed his chute. The other skydiver involved in the accident injured his leg but survived. Dutton was 27 years old.
Dutton was a local fixture in the Squaw Valley community, a familiar face with a toothy grin ripping around the mountain since he was a kid on the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team. MSP Films’ Scott Gaffney said he first noticed Dutton at the annual Cushing Crossing, Squaw Valley’s pond skim, when he attempted a back flip on the water. Soon after, Dutton started building a name for himself when he entered his first big mountain competitions in 2009. Dutton won both of his first competitions at Kirkwood and Alyeska, which earned him a spot on the Freeride World Tour. Dutton filmed Squaw Valley segments with both MSP in The Way I See It and Warren Miller Entertainment in Like There’s No Tomorrow, and this season he worked with Poor Boyz Productions. Gaffney said Dutton added a lot of spirit to his segments because he’d throw back flips off anything and everything, a trait that earned Dutton the nickname Timy “Backflips.”
“He was always living in the moment, always stoked, always happy, always saying the most inappropriate things and not giving a shit about what anyone thought, and it’d be hilarious,” says Michelle Parker, who grew up skiing Squaw Valley with Dutton.
Parker would often swing by Dutton’s house in Squaw Valley to pick him up before they’d go skiing. Where she would be in a rush to get to the mountain, he’d always take his time. Like one classic Squaw Valley powder day, when Parker wanted to learn back flips, rather than rush to the ski resort with the rest of the crowds, Dutton instead suggested they hang out at home and build jumps in his back yard.
“That’s when I learned back flips,” says Parker. “He was that ski buddy. There are only so many of those who come into your life and are on the exact same wavelength as you.”
When he was a teenager, Dutton struggled with heavy drug use. Friends said that was the dark point in Dutton’s life, but after hitting rock bottom, he relied on skiing to help him quit drugs completely and put his life back together. In recent years, Dutton found his rush through skiing and skydiving and would drink Shirley Temples when he’d go out with his friends.
“He was really open about all of his experiences,” says Dash Longe, who skied moguls with Dutton when they were kids on the Squaw Valley Freestyle Team. “He was a big inspiration.”
In 2010, Dutton took a step back from competing and focused more on filming. “He enjoyed the competitive aspect of skiing, but wanted to get more into filmmaking and still photography,” says Squaw Valley-based photographer Jason Abraham, who worked closely with Dutton. “Skydiving and BASE jumping, that was the next step he was preparing for. Every year, more and more, he was making it more of a job.”
Dutton started skydiving and BASE jumping with his childhood friends Mike Wilson and J.T. Holmes. Holmes was with Shane McConkey when the legend died while ski-BASEing in Italy in 2008. An investigation into the accident was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“I don’t think there was ever a time in the last however many years when Timy was not in a good place,” says Parker. “He was always lighthearted about everything and about skiing. He was always stoked.”
This article has been updated to reflect the following correction: JT Holmes was not with Timy Dutton during the accident.