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Skydiver killed in Gimli accident was beloved Manitoba film veteran

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Friends and colleagues are remembering the life of a woman who was killed in a Gimli-area skydiving accident over the weekend – Jun 7, 2022

Friends and colleagues are remembering the life of a woman who was killed in a Gimli-area skydiving accident over the weekend.

Filmmaker Jean du Toit, 53, an experienced skydiver, died on the scene Saturday evening at the Gimli Industrial Park despite efforts by onlookers and first responders to provide emergency medical care.

Local RCMP said their investigation determined that she was wearing all of the appropriate safety gear and that her parachute opened at the correct altitude, but she appears to have entered into a spin before crashing.

Cecelia Araneda, who worked with du Toit as a professional colleague for more than two decades, told Global News her friend was a “big-time community supporter” when it came to the the local film industry.

“There was something really about her… she was so deeply involved in the community for so many different ways, but she never sought to sort attention for herself. She never sought to grab the spotlight,” Araneda said.

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“She was always one of those people — I know the city is full of them — who just work really hard and volunteer a lot and just want to make the community better, and no one ever hears about them.

“She was definitely one of those people who, I will say, really made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives in small and big ways, but in ways that would have been really important for them at that moment.”

Read more: Winnipeg woman killed in Gimli skydiving accident

Araneda said she spoke with du Toit only a week or two ago to get her feedback on an in-progress film project, and that she’s glad she had the opportunity to connect one last time.

“When you were communicating with somebody very recently, and they were such a big presence in a certain part of your life, (the news was) just really shocking. She was so alive, and there… and to just suddenly not be there.

“Everybody is just shocked and speechless… and she was really young — in the sense that she had so much more still in her, so many more projects, all of these fun adventures that she did in nature.

“Obviously, she was a very experienced skydiver. So I think that it’s just shocking when somebody so vital is just not there anymore.”

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A spokesperson for Manitoba Film & Music described du Toit as a veteran of the local film industry and said she will be deeply missed by the local community.

“It is with heavy hearts that Manitoba Film & Music tries to come to terms with the devastating accident that took the life of Jean du Toit,” the organization said in a statement.

“Jean was a veteran of Manitoba’s film industry, moving from business affairs to accounting, production management and producing, and it was this versatility that made her such a valued member of our community.

“She was equally at home on French-language productions such as Edgar, English indie documentaries like Burt’s Buzz and, most recently, Jean contributed her talents to the Indigenous series, Little Bird.”

In a statement Tuesday, Skydive Manitoba called the incident ‘tragic’, but said it is currently helping authorities with the investigation, and declined to comment any further.

–With files from Global’s Abigail Turner

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg woman killed in Gimli skydiving accident' Winnipeg woman killed in Gimli skydiving accident
Winnipeg woman killed in Gimli skydiving accident – Jun 6, 2022

 

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