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FAA inspects parachute after skydiving death of instructor and high school grad

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday planned to inspect a parachute that failed to open, killing a skydiving instructor and first-time jumper in Northern California over the weekend.

An FAA inspector was headed to Skydive Lodi Parachute Center in the 23500 block of North Highway 99 in Acampo on Monday to investigate the deadly incident, agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

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The FAA is looking into obtaining a video showing the accident, he said.

According to the San Joaquin Sheriff's Office, the instructor and student skydiver leaped from an aircraft about 10 a.m. Saturday morning. Their parachute did not deploy until they hit the ground, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's office has not identified the skydivers. But the student's mother told local news stations that her son, Tyler Turner, had been celebrating a birthday that day with family and friends.

Before the 18-year-old boarded the flight, Francine Salazar told the Merced Sun-Star her son said a prayer, gave her a hug, then told her, "I love you, mom."

In a statement issued Monday, the center said it was waiting for more details about the crash from the FAA's investigation.

"We lost one of our skydiving brothers; two families lost their sons," the center said. "We are as shocked as anybody by this tragedy."

The skydiving center extended its condolences to the families.

"Our hearts and prayers are with families, friends and loved ones of the deceased," the center said. "We are as stunned as you."

The center faced criticism for continuing its skydiving operations after Saturday's deadly skydiving accident.

Over the years, the FAA has investigated multiple skydiving accidents at the parachuting center, Gregor added. In these cases, the FAA usually tries to determine whether parachutes were properly packed, and if the appropriate worker packed the parachute.

In 2010, the FAA proposed a $664,000 penalty against center's operator, William C. Dause, for allegedly failing to replace required parts on a DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter and comply with safety airworthiness directives. The FAA alleged more than 2,000 flights were conducted despite parts being "well past their life limits."

At the time, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood said "putting parachutists at risk by neglecting to follow safety procedures is unacceptable."

Turner graduated in June from Pacheco High School in Los Banos, according to his Facebook.

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Friends of Turner held a small vigil for him on Sunday night.

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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