ROTC cadet killed while skydiving in Marana

By Holly Wells
Arizona Daily Wildcat
August 25, 2005

A UA student and ROTC member died Sunday in a skydiving accident in Marana, authorities said.

Tristen Tyler Knight, 20, was wrapped in his parachute when he fell near the Marana Skydiving Center, 11700 W. Avra Valley Road, said Sgt. Tim Brunenkant, Marana Police Department spokesman.

Knight, a criminal justice administration junior from Phoenix, would have turned 21 next week.

Although it was his first day of skydiving, Knight was on his second dive when the accident occurred.

"He was jumping at 3,000 ft. It is unclear whether he pulled the wrong cord or something got caught up in his leg," Brunenkant said.

Knight was with a group of three other skydivers, none of who were family or close friends of Knight, Brunenkant said.

The Marana Skydiving Center and Federal Aviation Administration are still investigating the incident, but authorities know Knight's first jump took place between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m.

The Marana Skydiving Center called 911 around 3:45 p.m. Efforts to revive Knight were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at the scene around 4 p.m., Brunenkant said.

The accident was not a result of any ROTC training and was something Knight was doing for fun, said friend Cara Loehrs.

"I remember him talking about it last semester and he was very excited about it," she said.

Loehrs, a criminal justice senior who had several classes with Knight, said Knight always wanted to go into the Army and he really enjoyed the ROTC.

He was in the ROTC for 1 1/2 years and was a dual cadet in the National Guard and the Army, said Lt. Col. Dan Ortega.

Ortega said Knight was in the dual programs because he was training to be a lieutenant.

"He was a dedicated student and had the potential to be a great officer in the Army," Ortega said.

Knight graduated from boot camp three weeks prior to the accident and was engaged to be married, Brunenkant said.

Ortega said ROTC members are not required to attend boot camp, but said Knight wanted to attend.

"That says a lot about his character, he wanted to fully experience the Army. He was a great citizen," Ortega said.

Loehrs said Knight's death is a huge loss and said he will be greatly missed.

"He was a fun guy in every sense of the word. He was really outgoing and made everyone around him laugh," she said.

A memorial service for Knight will be held 10 a.m. Saturday in Phoenix at Whitney and Murphy Funeral Home, 4800 E. Indian School Road.

Ortega said all ROTC senior cadets will be attending the memorial service. Knight will be given full military honors at the funeral.