Jordan Irons wouldn't want his death to stop people from pursuing extreme sports. That's one of the messages his family is sharing after the paraglider died from injuries sustained after a jump off the Stawamus Chief on Aug. 29.
The 40-year-old Burnaby resident died with his family by his side at Vancouver General Hospital Saturday night, his brother-in-law Chris Mercer said Monday.
An avid outdoorsman and athlete, Irons visited the Sea to Sky often to pursue his favourite sports.
"He always knew that these types of activities had risks and he was very comfortable with the idea that if he ever were to pass that it could be something like this. At the end of the day, he probably died in a way he would have been OK with," he said. "He would be upset if it discouraged other people from doing those types of activities."
Irons, who had many successful jumps under his belt, was with his brother atop the Chief when he jumped. This time, something went very wrong.
“It appears the man was paragliding off the Stawamus Chief when he went into a spin with his wing and fell to the log boom area just to the west of where he launched from,” reads an Aug. 29 RCMP news release.
The BC Coroners Service is investigating the death, but no other information is yet available about what caused the accident.
Mercer said the family has nothing but praise for everyone involved in Irons' care after the fall — from those who called 911 to the first responders and medical personnel.
"The family recognizes that the hospital did an amazing job. The first responders did an amazing job … That gave him a great opportunity to fight, frankly," Mercer said, adding that, at times, Irons had 10 to 15 medical staff working on him for the better part of three days while in hospital.
"The effort they put in there was obviously fantastic. They never gave up."
Blood donations kept Irons alive while he was in critical condition, Mercer said.
"An insane amount of it," he noted, adding the experience has made the family want to encourage blood donation.
"[We want to] try and contribute back into our lives and society to make sure we promote that even more."
Mercer said Irons was well trained, conscious of safety, and would also want that known.
People think he was an amateur who jumped off the Chief for the first time, Mercer said, but that wasn't the case. "He has tons of education around it. He had jumped off the Chief the previous three weeks in a row. It is something he does quite frequently. He is super safety-focused." *
Margit Nance, executive director of Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada, called him a "very valued member" of the paragliding community, which has 1,250 members in Canada.
Irons was fully trained in 2017, she said.
"It is just heartbreaking," she said of his death.
"It happens that sometimes extremely experienced pilots have an accident. This comes with the sport, with any sport. It comes with driving a car."
Irons worked for video game developer EA Sports for 17 years. He dedicated his free time to taking courses on topics like wilderness and avalanche safety.
"We have received communication from a lot of people who we certainly didn't know, that Jordan had an impact on and that Jordan knew," Mercer said.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that people consider blood donation in Irons' memory.
Go to blood.ca to find where to donate.
*Please note, this sentence was changed slightly (to include 'amateur') after online publication to align with what Mercer originally intended. A quote from the paragliding association was also added.