Jeff Dean is being remembered as a Canadian skydiving icon, a dedicated firefighter, trainer and instructor and dedicated family man whose sudden death in a skydiving accident on Wednesday has left several local communities in shock.
Condolences poured in Thursday from those who knew Dean from the skydiving community, from his fellow firefighters and from his involvement in training youth through the Ottawa Fire Services Fire Venturers Program, a co-managed community youth program. with Scout Canada.
Dean, 45, a father of two and a resident of Fitzroy Harbor, joined the fire department as a volunteer firefighter in 2010 and became a full-time member of the service two years later, authorities said. He worked at Station 12 at Fifth Avenue and O’Connor Street.
He was an avid skydiver and co-founder of Skydive Ratings Canada, which started several years ago with “a vision to help young skydivers set goals and become coaches and instructors,” according to a company post Thursday.
“Jeff was a Canadian skydiving icon, a master rigger, rigger instructor, trainer…role model, mentor, longtime volunteer on the (Canadian Sport Skydiving Association) coaches working committee…There was nothing in CSPA that Jeff hasn’t done. Suffice it to say that Jeff is an icon in our sport,” the Skydive Ratings Canada post said.
“Jeff wasn’t just a skydiver, he was so much more than that, he was a friend to many, he started out as a professional tradesman, rigger, then paralegal and pilot. He was an avid rock climber, motorcycle enthusiast, mountain biker, and a staple of the Ottawa community.”
The post also remembered Dean as “an amazing husband and father to an amazing family.”
The Ontario Provincial Police and the Ministry of Labor 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 found that Dean was self-employed and operating under the “brand” of Skydive Ratings Canada.
In an update on 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 maneuver.”
“(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 operational and working properly. Fatal injuries were sustained during the landing process following an advanced parachute maneuver.”
Parachute Ottawa said it was working with police during the investigation.
The company described Dean as a beloved member of the local skydiving community, a “leader” in Canadian skydiving and a “positive light for all”.
“As a mentor to hundreds of skydivers across the country, our community is shocked by this loss.”
Ottawa Fire Chief Paul Hutt called Dean “an amazing person” and a firefighter and “dedicated volunteer” with the Fire Venturer program for teens 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 father of two children.”
“The news of his passing is difficult for the entire fire service family,” Hutt said.
Dean was a head coach for the Fire Venturer youth program and condolences poured into the social media pages of those who knew him through the Scouts Canada affiliate program.
“It is with a heavy heart that I pass on that our Fire Venturer program lead trainer lost his life in a skydiving accident,” program officials wrote Thursday. “He was a fantastic coach not only with the youngsters, but also with the Scouters. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
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