Jeff Dean is being remembered as a Canadian skydiving icon, a dedicated firefighter, coach and instructor and a devoted family man whose sudden death in a skydiving accident Wednesday has left several local communities reeling.
Condolences poured in on Thursday from those who knew Dean from the skydiving community, from fellow firefighters and from his involvement with training youth through the Ottawa Fire Services’ Fire Venturers Program, a community youth program run jointly with Scouts Canada.
Dean, 45, a father of two and a resident of Fitzroy Harbour, joined the fire department as a volunteer firefighter in 2010 and became a full-time member of the service two years later, officials said. He worked at Station 12 at Fifth Avenue and O’Connor Street.
He was an avid skydiver and was co-founder of Skydive Ratings Canada, which he began several years ago with “a vision of helping young skydivers set goals and develop into coaches and instructors,” according to a post from the company on Thursday.
“Jeff was a Canadian skydiving icon, a master rigger, rigger instructor, coach … role model, mentor, long-standing volunteer on the coaching working committee for (the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association) … There was nothing in CSPA that Jeff has not done. Suffice it to say Jeff is an icon in our sport,” the post from Skydive Ratings Canada said.
“Jeff wasn’t just a skydiver, he was much more than that, he was a friend to many, started as a professional tradesman, rigger, then legal aid, and a pilot. He was an avid rock climber, motorcycle enthusiast, mountain biker and a staple of the Ottawa community.”
The posting also remembered Dean as “an amazing husband and father to an incredible family.”
The Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Labour continued to investigate the fatal skydiving accident near Arnprior. Ministry officials said an inspector visited the scene after the incident was reported around 1 p.m.
Ministry officials said the investigation considered Dean to be “self-employed” and operating under the Skydive Ratings Canada “brand name.”
In an update Thursday, Parachute Ottawa described Dean as a “highly experienced skydiver” who had completed more than 4,000 jumps.
His parachute deployed and was working properly, the company said, and Dean received fatal injuries during “an advanced parachute manoeuvre.”
“(Dean) succumbed to fatal injuries sustained during the landing sequence at Parachute Ottawa,” the company wrote. “(Dean) deployed (his) parachute without incident. The parachute was fully functioning and working correctly. Fatal injuries were sustained during the landing process following an advanced parachute manoeuvre.”
Parachute Ottawa said it was working with police during the investigation.
The company described Dean as a beloved member of the local parachuting community, a “leader” in Canadian skydiving and a “positive light to all.”
“As a mentor to hundreds of skydivers throughout the country, our community is in shock by this loss.”
Ottawa Fire Chief Paul Hutt called Dean “an amazing person” and firefighter and “a dedicated volunteer” with the Fire Venturer program for teenagers interested in firefighting.
“I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and his fire family during this difficult time,” Hutt said, describing Dean as a “loving husband and a father of two children.”
“The news of his passing is difficult for the entire fire service family,” Hutt said.
Dean was head trainer with the Fire Venturer youth program and condolences poured in on social media pages from those who knew him through the Scouts Canada-affiliated program.
“It is with a heavy heart, I am passing on that our head trainer from the Fire Venturer program has lost his life in a parachuting accident,” officials with the program wrote Thursday. “He was a fantastic trainer not only with the youth, but also with the Scouters. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
With files from Taylor Blewett
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