Gary owned the local butcher shop in Ruakaka (the place I used to spend my Summer holidays). Entering his shop could be confused with entering an Adventure Sports Shop. Pictures of Gary engaged in different pursuits lined the back wall. He would often leave whatever he was doing to greet people, he made me feel like an old friend rather than a customer. He always had a smile on his face and a few cheery words (usually about fishing or skydiving). He appeared happy and full of the joys of life. Below is a copy of an article from NZ Adventure Magazine regarding the circumstances of his death.
Farewell Gary, it was a pleasure knowing you.
June 22, 2010
Filed under News
A New Zealand jumpmaster and parachute instructor has been killed in a parachute accident in Norway.
Northland’s Gary Cullen, 51, owner of the Bream Bay Butchery at Ruakaka, died of his injuries near Lysebotn in Rogaland on Sunday.
He was a tandem jumpmaster for his sister Kelly’s Ballistic Blondes skydiving business in Northland.
His partner Tracey Norton, and a longtime parachuting buddy Frank Conway and wife Helen, had been waiting down below for Mr Cullen to jump off a high piece of ground on Sunday, the Northern Advocate reported.
But a German jumper, Mirko Schmidt, told the online edition of Stavanger’s Aftenblad newspaper the New Zealander did not know the mountain and did not have the proper equipment.
“I would not recommend anyone to try this,” he told the newspaper.
Stein Edvardsen, president of the local base-jumping club — for parachutists who jump from cliffs, towers and buildings, said the New Zealander failed to get the lift he needed from his parachute, which collapsed, and he fell 30m.
Mr Cullen was declared dead at the scene, and police were notified shortly before 11pm local time.
Ms Norton is arranging to bring the body to New Zealand.
Earlier this month, the couple travelled to Italy where he had competed in the world parachuting championships for people over 40, winning two gold medals.
Mr Cullen was not only a New Zealand champion parachutist and skydiver but one of the nation’s top 10 spearfishers, and had also represented his country in that sport, said Spearfishing New Zealand chairman Bob Rosemergy.