With the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline visible in the distance, the parachutists jumped out of a helicopter around noon, spinning through the sky.
But Petty Officer Peters separated from the others, dropping out of view. His parachute, which never fully opened, fell into a parking lot. The Navy said in a statement released on Monday that it was investigating the accident and pointed to “an equipment malfunction, though the specific nature and cause is currently unknown.”
In a tribute on Facebook on Tuesday, the Leap Frogs wrote: “The members of the United States Navy Parachute Team ‘The Leap Frogs’ would like to honor our teammate and friend, Petty Officer First Class Remington ‘Remi’ Peters. You will be sorely missed, brother.”
And in a statement the Navy released on Monday, Petty Officer Peters’s family praised its “courageous warrior” as “an angel on earth and role model to all.” The family continued, “He lived life to the fullest and taught us to do the same.”
Petty Officer Peters grew up in western Colorado and attended Grand Junction High School. One of his closest friends, Tyler Volkmann, recalled that Petty Officer Peters, who was in “wildly good shape,” ran sprints for the track team, played football and often snowboarded at nearby Powderhorn. And he made friends easily.
“High school is a crazy time where people judge each other all the time based on what you’re wearing or what you’re driving,” said Mr. Volkmann, 27, who is now a project manager for a general contractor in Wisconsin. “But he was happy to be anybody’s friend. He was always smiling.”
A guitar player, Petty Officer Peters was fond of music, including contemporary Christian rock, and he and Mr. Volkmann traveled one summer to the Creation Northwest festival in Washington State, which featured one of their favorite acts, Grits, a Nashville hip-hop group.
But above all, Mr. Volkmann recalled, Mr. Peters, with a penchant for fast cars and motorcycles, wanted to join the military, perhaps as a pilot, because “he liked the adrenaline.”
Mr. Peters enlisted in the Navy in September 2008, a few months after graduating from high school. He became a member of the Navy SEALs and was a veteran of two combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan before joining the Leap Frogs about a year ago. He made more than 900 jumps.
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, James Moore, a retired SEALs chief who is currently deputy operations officer for the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command, said there was still no explanation of what had gone wrong. He described Petty Officer Peters as full of “uncompromising integrity” and “always striving to be the best.” Petty Officer Peters would often come in on weekends, “working on his gear, making it perfect,” he said.
The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego, and in recent years, Petty Officer Peters had embraced an active outdoors lifestyle with his longtime girlfriend. Friends said he loved to sky-dive, hike and go rock climbing.
Petty Officer Peters, who billed himself as an entrepreneur, also incorporated several businesses and registered numerous domain names; one business, still active, promoted a natural sleeping aid.
And while he did not have much of a social media presence, friends said, he was very passionate about one issue in 2015, urging friends on his Facebook page to sign a petition to repeal a ban on BASE jumping in national parks.
“Ignorance and fear are the only reasons for this law,” he wrote. “Let’s abolish this and allow athletes the freedom to safely huck it off cliffs, instead of having to sneak around at night and jumping in less than ideal conditions to avoid getting arrested.”
Continue reading the main story