Janesville man dies in skydiving accident

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September 22, 2008
— A Janesville businessman and popular skydiving coach died Saturday when his parachute failed to deploy during a dive with Sky Knights Sport Parachute Club, Walworth County Coroner John Griebel said.

William O. Doherty, 53, of 2104 Cottonwood Drive, Janesville, had logged more than 5,000 jumps in his 30-year skydiving career, his ex-wife Jackie Friar said. He was familiar with the jump site and has had many experiences with malfunctioning parachutes, Friar said.

"Everyone knows Bill in the skydiving arena," Friar said. "Skydiving was a hobby and a love of his."

The accident took place at 3:13 p.m. at 2761 St. Peters Road in the village of East Troy, Griebel said. That's a residential neighborhood about a mile west of the East Troy Municipal Airport.

Sky Knights is located adjacent to the airport at W1341 County L, East Troy.

The parachute club uses the airport for take-offs and landings, and divers jump to nearby properties owned by Sky Knights, Griebel said.

Sky Knights management declined to comment.

Doherty was the founder of Seamless Gutters of Janesville 25 years ago, Friar said. He long was involved in the construction business and was a member of the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association, she said.

An autopsy is scheduled this morning, Griebel said.

It's unknown what caused the accident.

Initial investigation didn't show any obvious indication of a tangled chute or other mechanical problems, said Village of East Troy Police Chief Alan Boyes.

However, Boyes stressed that the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating Doherty's death and would make the final determination about the cause of the accident.

In 2005, two skydivers were killed in separate incidents after skydiving at the East Troy Municipal Airport. Both were experienced skydivers.

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