Erik Roner was performing a skydive with three others for a local golf tournament when an accident took his life. Mike Escammilla photo via Instagram.
UPDATED 4:30 PM MST, Wednesday, September 29th, Jackson Hole, Wyoming: Erik Roner has died in a skydiving accident in Lake Tahoe, California. Roner was part of a group of four skydivers that included JT Holmes and Aaron McGovern who were the opening act of a charity golf tournament at The Links at Squaw Creek today at the base of Squaw Valley. Roner hit a tree at high speed as he was coming in for a landing, and died immediately from the impact. Entangled in the tree, it was reportedly 40 minutes before emergency personnel were able to rescue Roner's body from the tree, at which point he was pronounced dead at age 39.
According to Roy Tuscany, founder of the Lake Tahoe-based High Fives Foundation and a witness at the scene along with a crowd of approximately 120 others at the golf tournament, McGovern landed first, followed by JT, and then Roner followed but hit a tree close to the landing zone. "He hit a tree... he hit a tree so hard. I don't know what happened from there," said an obviously choked-up Tuscany over the phone from Truckee.
Roner, who has starred in multiple TGR films over the years and has been a prolific figure in the wider action sports community, leaves behind two amazing children and a lovely, loving wife. "That's the most important thing that needs to resonate amongst everyone," Tuscany said. "That Erik had an amazing family–two beautiful, beautiful kids and an amazing wife."
We will update this story as relevant details become available. Rest in peace, Erik. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, your loving family, and your friends at this immensely difficult hour.
An Awful Coincidence, a Devastated Community
Erik while hosting an episode of Outside TV's Locals with Sage Cattabriga-Alosa last winter. Erik Roner photo.
It is not lost on me that almost a year ago to the day, I was reporting on the death of three other stars in our community– JP Auclair, Andreas Fransson, and Liz Daley–and that you were reading about their tragic ends. October 1st, 2014 was another calm, beautiful fall day like this one during which I had to write–sadly, painfully, and regretfully–about the deaths of a great few who had inspired myself and so many others with their actions, lives, and attitudes. As the fall cools the air and brings with it the excited anticipation of winter, it is doubly cruel to instead be reporting about the loss of those who so excited us to feel that way, to imagine what dreams the next season might allow us to fulfill.
But nowhere else is the pain felt so sharply as in Lake Tahoe, where, in recent years, the repeated deaths of icons like and including Roner have driven the knife deep into the soul of a great community. Preceding Roner's tragic death today came the passing of Timy Dutton, "American" Dave Rosenbarger, Shane McConkey, Kip Garre, Allison Kreutzen, Arne Backstrom, and CR Johnson. "You can't write a script this bad," Roy Tuscany said from Truckee while fighting back tears but speaking the difficult words we imagine many in the area are thinking. "This community has a cancer, and it's not one people are used to seeing."
A Star to Many, a Father to Two, a Husband to One
Erik was a prolific figure in the action sports world, having begun his career as a professional skier and starring in 12 different Teton Gravity Research films over the course of a decade. In addition to capturing segments in films from 2002's Salad Days to 2012's The Dream Factory, Roner three times made it to the top 10 of Powder Magazine's Reader Poll, landing in 4th in 2010 and 2011 and 7th in 2012.
As his skiing progressed, Erik began mixing the skydiving experience he'd begun to accrue since the turn of the millennium to add first descent ski BASE jumps to his list of exploits. Just down from the street from us on the boundary line of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Erik was the first to ski BASE jump off iconic Cody Peak, which made it into the 2005 TGR film, Anomaly. His ski BASE feats were enough to earn him an invite from Travis Pastrana to join his Nitro Circus crew, and Roner performed countless stunts around the world for both TV and live audiences, even BASE jumping into a sold-out stadium of 23,000 fans in South Africa. Erik's favorite quote was from another icon who live on the edge, Hunter S. Thompson: "Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death."
"A brilliant human being" according to Todd Jones, who has been with Roner since the start of his career. Mark Fisher photo.
"I worked with him on multiple different levels–as a skier, a ski BASE jumper, an executive producer, a host," said TGR co-founder Todd Jones. "He was brilliant human being. Super nice, super charismatic, could blend into any scene around the world, and a total badass and ripper. It’ll be devastating, and he’ll be missed so hard by so many people."
Kasper, Annika, Erik, and Oskar were a family above all else. Erik Roner photo.
At the same time, Erik was a family man, and now leaves behind a daughter, Kasper, a son, Oskar, and his wife Annika. Oscar was even featured in some of Erik's stunt videos to the delight of those who got the joke or to the horror of those who thought it was real. Amongst a stream of shots from his time skydiving, skiing, or BASE jumping for Nitro Circus on the road were featured loving tributes to his family and excitement to return to them after his latest stunt. Again, Roy Tuscany: "That's the most important thing that needs to resonate amongst everyone–that Erik had an amazing family–two beautiful, beautiful kids and an amazing wife."
Support Erik Roner's family here.
Early Reactions to Eriks' Passing Pour In
Dash Longe and Ian McIntosh share a fun moment in the middle of a TGR shoot. TGR photo.
Reactions to Roner's passing are pouring in from the internet. Here are a few from the TGR and action sports family.
TGR co-founder Todd Jones: We grew up together. We became fathers. We developed a hit television series together. I watched him fire. I watched him win. I watched him become a husband. I watched him become a father. I watched him succeed. We tore the roof off this planet. I always say, " you get one lap, make it count" and Roner had the sickest lap ever. My heart is gutted. The world is not as cool. Anika, Oskar and Kasper; I love you guys so much. Your family is huge and we will be there for you guys through this unbelievable and tragic time. The world mourns. We all mourn.
When my brother delivered this horrible news, I walked to the river and threw up. I literally was sick to my stomach. The lyrics, " nobody told me there would be days like these" ripped through my head. I will forever celebrate the times we had brother. I love you soooo much and miss you even more. I'm grateful to have had the pleasure to call myself your friend. You made us all better people. I speak this from my heart. I will never stop missing seeing you. I love you forever. Thanks bud! What a fucking lap we had.
TGR co-founder Steve Jones: Roner was one of my favorite people to travel with. He had the truest vibe from deep, deep down. He was up for everything. Food, people, adventure, the unknown; he loved all of it. It always amazed me to watch him perform the most outrageous mind blowing act and see him ease so naturally to this humble and calm person, as if nothing happened. Roner had that graciousness in life. I miss him and I am deeply saddened.
Nitro Circus Founder and Athlete Travis Pastrana: One of my best friends died this morning doing a skydive demo. Erik Roner was one of the original members of Nitro Circus. He was an amazing athlete, a true blue friend and above all, an amazing father and husband. He wasn't doing anything that was pushing the envelope or being crazy. Erik was a calculated and experienced skydiver and this jump should have been more routine for him then most people driving to work. The nitro crew, his friends and family, as well as his amazing sponsors will do everything we can to take care of his family, but for anyone out there who's life was positively influenced by Erik, please show your gratitude by helping his family and clicking on the link below. Thank you.
Support Roner's family here.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins Pastrana: It's with an extremely heavy heart that I write this. Today... We lost this infectiously bright man! As painful as this is, I can't even fathom how his gorgeous wife and kids are doing. Please send them lots of love in their time of excruciating heartache. You will never be forgotten Erik Roner! We love you so much Annika, Oskar, and Kasper. So so incredibly sorry for your loss.... If you have ever met Erik or seen him on Nitro Circus you have probably gotten a good laugh and a huge smile from him! Please click the link and make a donation to his sweet family he left behind
Chris Bezamat: There are a lot of heavy hearts out there today with the passing of Erik Rones. He and I started shooting with TGR around the same time and ended up on several trips to foreign lands together. Poland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Switzerland, France, Juneau, Haines to name a few. He lived on my couch in Wilson, WY for many winters, as I watched him shred nearly every line in Jackson Hole and we would always room together on the road. Today brought me a flood of memories of him, and I just feel so fortunate to have spent the time I did with him. There are so many individual moments that stand out, so many funny memories, but honestly what I remember the most was how much I loved to laugh with him. He was always so positive, so funny, and had so much love in his soul. I'm really going to miss you, Rubs. I wish I could hear you laugh again.
Ian McIntosh: Erik was so much more than an action sports icon. He was a loving husband, father and friend who cherished his family more than anything in this world. He was genuine and showed love to all those who were a part of his life. Always smiling, laughing and having the best time no matter where or what he was doing. Erik had a great head on his shoulders and even though he was a risk taker, he was super calculated and always put safety first. With all the incredible and unbelievable things that he did he was always willing to walk away if it wasn't right and he often did just that. Erik was a huge inspiration and mentor to me not just for his talents or accomplishments but for his head space and approach to everything he did. I looked up to him as the guy that through it all would out last everyone because he was the guy making the smart calls. He represented everything a man should be and was a great role model for all those who admired him. I don't think Rest In Peace is possible for Erik because I know how much he is already missing his family, he was always happiest when he was with them.
Thanks for everything Erik, you are a true legend and you will live on in my heart forever.
Ian "Mac" McIntosh and Roner snapping casual candids of eachother mid air. Photo courtesy of Ian McIntosh.
Leo Ahrens: January 28th, 2013 with the ski season in full swing, I watched a video of a man fly a wing suit along the contours of a mountain unlike anything I have ever seen. The next day, as all 19 year old kids would do, I drove to California to learn how to skydive. I was by myself and had no clue what the hell I was getting into. As I stepped onto the tarmac my first day, none other than Eric Roner and Ian Mcintosh fell from the sky as if to greet a fellow skier into the world of flight. Despite having just met me, Roner literally took me under his wing that week, gave me a place to sleep, snuck me beer at dinner and jumped out of the plane just after me on my first ever solo flight. This guy was as good as they come and I will never forget the friendship that started that day in the vineyards of California. Thanks brother, I miss yah already.
Dash Longe: I still cannot believe my ears and eyes. As a Tahoe kid, I feel pain for our entire community. Yet another seriously inspirational figure has left us and, unfortunately, we all have to face another heavy wave of emotions. As a friend, I am having trouble imagining that this could have happened to such a calculated risk taker. Roner was always executing his stunts with the upmost respect for the potential danger that might have been present. He often waited for the right moment if he didn’t feel one hundred percent confident. Erik was more than a friend to me; he seemed to genuinely look out for my best interests and always gave me meaningful advice about skiing, sponsorship, and even life. He was a pleasure to work and travel with and I always felt a little sigh of relief if I knew I would be with him on a trip; almost like the comfort of knowing you’d be with your older brother. My heart sinks for Annika, Oskar and baby Kasper. Stay Strong! You guys meant the world to him.
We know you loved every minute of it Rubbs, It showed on your face. You will be deeply missed by everyone you touched and inspired. We love you dude.
Angel Collinson: To infinity, and beyond. Love and light to Liz, JP, Andreas, and Erik, and all of their family and tribe today. What incredible people they all were! With such memorable smiles. They are good teachers for us all. What a fragile, crazy, beautiful, complicated yet simple thing this life is. Today I am reminded to enjoy all the small things, and the big things too, that make this life and time on the planet special. Going to try to catch some waves with my family and look at the diamonds on the water. This photo was an opening in an ice cave in Juneau a couple years back.... Onward and upward #rubberneck ! Thinking of Annika and Oskar and Kasper today especially.
Roner and Angel on her first trip to Alaska with TGR. Photo courtesy of Greg Epstein.
TGR Cinematographer Nick Kalisz: The action sports world lost yet another amazing soul yesterday. I luckily got to work with him for the good part of last year. He could do it all and most important cared so much about his family. A year ago today we lost Liz Daley. I was on the trip in the Fitzroy Mountains when this happened. Liz had this glow about her and could make everyone smile. Both Liz and Erik have changed my life. They knew how to live and made the most out of everything they had.
Greta Egan: So sad to lose such a great guy. My heart goes out to his family whom he was so close with. Erik taught me how to be a great auntie and be involved with family at the core of your being. I will always take that with me and remember that he gave me that perspective. Thank you Erik Roner. xo
Rob Kingwill: Celebrating Erik Roner tonight. He was one hell of a awesome guy! I spent many days in the mountains with him here in JH, and I was always in awe of his skills and his love of life. My heart goes out to his family. Rest in Peace brother.
Outside Television will air Locals, a TGR produced TV series hosted by Roner, from 7pm to 11pm EST on Tuesday in Roner's honor.
And now is as good a time as any to read Steve Casimiro's touching essay, Thoughts on Honoring the Dead, and the Living, over at Adventure Journal. If nothing else, take his final line to heart: "It’s good to honor the dead. It’s better to honor the living. It’s good to use words. It’s better to take actions. And really, there’s no time to waste."
-Thanks to Jon Desabris and Hillary Saunders for their research and assistance in bringing you the latest on this tragedy. RIP, Erik.