Update: Student identified in skydiving accident
By Shavonne Potts
A Salisbury man who died Saturday during a skydiving accident in Yadkin County had been an avid skydiver and instructor for many years.
James Paul Pregler, 38, died while making a tandem jump with a student shortly after noon on Saturday at Swan Creek Airport in Jonesville.
The student, Adam Howard, 21, of Deep Run, in Lenoir County, also died.
Howard’s girlfriend had jumped before him, successfully. He had given his girlfriend the skydiving lesson for her graduation.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Atlanta, confirmed that the fatal accident had taken place.
In a tandem jump, the student and instructor are harnessed together during the jump.
According to the medical examiner, Dr. James McGrath of Hoots Memorial Hospital in Yadkinville, the parachute malfunctioned, and both Pregler and Howard died instantly.
Bergen said the FAA will investigate to determine whether the aircraft, a Cessna 206, was being operated properly and to see if the parachute was packed correctly. The rest of the investigation will be done by local authorities.
Yadkin County officials declined to comment, referring questions to the FAA.
Pregler was an instructor with Carolina Skydiving in Jonesville.
“He’s been an instructor most of his adult life,” Steven Pregler said of his brother.
Steven is the eldest brother of seven, and James was the youngest.
James and another brother, John, were both avid skydivers for more than 20 years, Steven said.
James grew up in Dubuque, Iowa, where Steven still lives. After high school, James joined the Air Force and served in Desert Storm. He “took advantage of being able to get an education,” Steven said.
James was a chemical engineer and worked at a local rubber plant, his brother said.
“He was a great, loving father and husband. He was the type of person that everybody really liked,” Steven said.
The family recently went back to Iowa for a visit, Steven said.
“Pretty much the entire family was there,” he said.
Steven said the Preglers send their condolences to the family of the student, who had not been identified Sunday.
“Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family. We feel bad for everyone involved,” he said.
Steven declined to talk about the accident, saying the information he obtained was third-hand and there was some conflicting information.
James belonged to the Big Path Skydiving Club that once operated out of Dubuque and now is located in Lancaster, Wisc., his brother said.
News of the accident spread through the Grace Ridge subdivision, where the Preglers live, and where cars lined the streets.
Neighbors say the Preglers had not lived at their Foxcress Drive home for very long, possibly a year or so.
Pregler and his wife, Donna, have two teenage daughters.