‘Spirit of adventure’ defined life of woman killed while skydiving in Gimli, father says

The thing Gerrie du Toit will remember most about his daughter Jean is her spirit of adventure, he says.

The 53-year-old woman died while skydiving with three others near Gimli, Man., on Saturday.

Her father, speaking to CBC News from Arizona, said his daughter was spiritual, participating regularly in meditation retreats in between working in Manitoba’s film industry and her adventures abroad.

“She’d go whitewater rafting and … skiing, and at one stage, she went to Mongolia to ride horses in the desert,” he said. 

“This is what kept her sane and kept her going.”

Jean du Toit was an experienced skydiver with more than 100 jumps, and her father said investigators told him on the day she died, everything seemed normal.

“She was with other jumpers and they jumped out of the plane, and her chute did open,” he said.

“And I think something like halfway down, she started spiralling out. The chute just folded and she plunged.”

Police were called to the Gimli Industrial Park around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

When officers arrived, they found du Toit unresponsive on the ground, receiving medical attention from others who were there.

An RCMP officer started to help and paramedics arrived moments later, a police news release said. 

Du Toit was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Jean’s father, Gerrie du Toit, says his daughter had a spiritual side and she regularly went on meditation retreats, in between working freelance jobs in the Manitoba film industry. (Submitted by Gerrie du Toit)

Investigators determined she was wearing all the appropriate safety gear, and there were no issues with the aircraft, police said.

Du Toit was born in South Africa and came to Winnipeg for the first time in 1987, on an exchange during her last year of high school. She eventually moved here permanently. 

Her father said she did freelance work for a number of Manitoba film production companies, which gave her time to travel.

Gerrie du Toit is making preparations to come to Winnipeg to settle his daughter’s affairs.

He is still in shock.

In addition to skydiving, Jean du Toit enjoyed whitewater rafting, skiing and horseback riding. (Submitted by Gerrie du Toit)

“Children aren’t supposed to die before their parents, you know?” he said. 

I just satisfy myself that she went doing what she loved best, and she’s in a better place now.”

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