Workers at a Pacific Palisades video firm are mourning the death of the company's operations manager, a 27-year Malibu man who was killed in a motorized paraglider crash in Ventura County.
Brent Butzke, a cinematographer for the Ski Channel and the Surf Channel, died when his unregulated light aircraft crashed into the Santa Clara River's dry bed, between Fillmore and Piru.
Butzke was piloting a motorized paraglider, or paramotor, which is a rectangular shaped parachute that looks like a wing attached to a seat and motorized fan that provides thrust to keep the apparatus aloft.
The crash was reported around 2:30 p.m Tuesday by workers in a nearby orchard. A subsequent autopsy cited blunt-force trauma as the cause of Butzke's death.
The Ventura County Sheriff's Department and the Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office conducted investigations to figure out why he crashed. The FAA does not regulate paramotors, and the NTSB does not investigate their crashes.
According to his colleagues at the Ski Channel, as a cinematographer Butzke had an uncanny knack for picking out the most interesting elements in "an ocean of footage, and then putting it all together in remarkable ways."
"Working in action sports takes a certain breed of individual. Typically, one does not embark on a career in the industry without possessing a sincere passion for extreme sport and adventure," said an obituary posted on the Ski Channel's web site. "Brent fit the bill to a 'T'."
The attached YouTube video features some extra footage from a feature documentary film about skiing called Winter that Butzke worked on.
Butzke was also a snow boarder, skateboarder, surfer and motorcyclist.
"Whether he was shooting, editing, directing, re-booting servers ... he was a whiz," said Steve Bellamy, CEO and Founder of the Ski and Surf Channels. "So much of the Ski and Surf Channels' programming will be a tribute to him and an inspiration to others for decades."
John Greynald, of the Santa Barbara-based Soaring Association, motorized paragliding is different from regular paragliding and hang gliding because it requires more training and expertise.
"One of the things people are unaware of is that there are hundreds and hundreds of hours accumulated without any mishaps," Greynald said in an interview with the Ventura County Star newspaper. "This (crash) is actually a pretty rare occurrence."