Forums: Community: Blue Skies - In Memory Of:
Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend

 

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Jinxie

Oct 29, 2007, 1:18 AM
Post #126 of 268 (5221 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Tonto ... It was a priviledge to have known you and to have flown with you. There are no words to express our sadness and loss at your passing and also no words to thank you for the advice, chats and laughs. Our DZ will never be the same again. Fly high dear friend and blue skies always .....

Our hearts go out to Taya, Cayleigh and the lil one. You are in out thoughts and prayers.

All our love
Bev, Mike, Bailey, Samantha and Jessica


rob_mitch

Oct 29, 2007, 1:37 AM
Post #127 of 268 (5209 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh Boy! It's always sad when we loose someone, more so when you've shared many moments with that person on the dropzone. Tonto, the sport will feel your loss as well as be stronger as a result of your selfless commitment. Blue Skies.

Rob Mitchell


Ben1973  (A 2912)

Oct 29, 2007, 1:43 AM
Post #128 of 268 (5209 views)
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Re: [wildcard451] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

 


(This post was edited by Ben1973 on Oct 29, 2007, 2:24 AM)


Premier GravityGirl  (D 18897)

Oct 29, 2007, 1:44 AM
Post #129 of 268 (5207 views)
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Re: [rob_mitch] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Godspeed, Eric.


Travman  (E License)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:09 AM
Post #130 of 268 (5177 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Like others here, I had never met him, only talked through PM's.

But he was always very helpful and offered great advice and support.

Despite never had met him I was quite saddened to read about this as I was hoping to go flocking with him one day.


yoink

Oct 29, 2007, 2:11 AM
Post #131 of 268 (5183 views)
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Re: [udder] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Shit.

Thanks for all your advice and time Tonto. You'll be missed.


Ben1973  (A 2912)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:15 AM
Post #132 of 268 (5170 views)
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Re: [Travman] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

a big shocker!!! will never forget all the good advise you gave me, safety first!! - Tonto was one of the coolest guys I ever knew, I had the privelege to do all 10 AFF levels with T. The best instructor ever!!


(This post was edited by Ben1973 on Oct 29, 2007, 2:21 AM)


mccordia  (D 94775)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:38 AM
Post #133 of 268 (5133 views)
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Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I was out for the weekend, and hear a few sms-es come in and a phonecall immediately after...I ran to my phone thinking some friends probably had great stories to tell about the past weekend of jumping...but the news I heard shocked, baffled and amazed me...disbelief is the only word I could think of..

Tonto was always full of good advice for everyone..
Talking to him was always fun. Be it only online and through email.
Im glad Ive had the priviledge of meeting him face to face in germany...

When his love was coming to Belgium for a few months, I almost got daily messages. Asking to take care of her, and make sure she had lots of friends to play with in the sky during her stay...
All the words he spoke where filled with love for her..

I cant even begin to imagine the loss she, and all people close to him have experienced...my heart is with you all...


(This post was edited by mccordia on Oct 29, 2007, 3:18 AM)


LukeOliver  (F 600)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:48 AM
Post #134 of 268 (5123 views)
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Re: Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

No way :-(

Fly free.


cloudhugger  (A 3608)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:52 AM
Post #135 of 268 (5110 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Tonto was a real mentor to me. He taught me safety, how to think logically, how to take care of myself and my gear, and discipline in the sport. He taught me that habits can be a bad thing, when I once walked around the front of the aircraft, and told him not to worry, that I know it is the wrong thing to do. He laughed with me when I had my first parachute malfunction. When I said I wanted to be as good as him, he said: don’t be, aim higher, aim to be better than me, be the best you can be.

Tonto lived life to the fullest, and is a great inspiration to me, and he is going to be missed by all. My deepest condolensces to Taya, his children, his parents, and everyone out there – the skydiving community. He was a great friend and mentor to all.

I am deeply saddened by this, and truely greatful to have known sucha great person.

Dirk


skyhpp  (C 840)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:54 AM
Post #136 of 268 (5106 views)
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Re: [mccordia] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Tonto - the sincerity of these posts and the large number of them say a lot about the many lives you touched and the massive contribution you made as a skydiver and as a caring, compassionate human being. Thank you for that - we will all be the poorer for your passing.

Condolences to Taya, your children and all who knew you.

Ron


RandomLemming  (B 105978)

Oct 29, 2007, 2:56 AM
Post #137 of 268 (5100 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm so sorry ...

There were so many times when I was ready to walk away from skydiving because of the attitude and the people, and Tonto was one of the two people who kept me in this sport.

If anyone has contact, please pass on my deepest condolences to his children - they are wonderful human beings! They probably just know me as the crazy foreign english guy if they remember me at all :(

Blue Skies forever.


kevinvh5150

Oct 29, 2007, 3:41 AM
Post #138 of 268 (5021 views)
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Re: [cloudhugger] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I worked with Eric 20 odd years ago, for about 4 years, in Constantia, Cape Town. It was a pretty mundane job where we could chat most of the day. And chat we did - from cycling, archery, running, motorbikes, guns, physics, philosophy to, ummm ... skydiving. He was on crutches initially, having smashed his femur in a skydiving incident in UK. I won't say he convinced me to try skdiving, he wasn't that kinda guy, but I gave it a bash and after 15 jumps my curiosity was satisfied. A very kewl jumpmaster too!

We lost contact after he moved to Joburg, but chatted to him on the phone a few years ago and we exchanged quite a few emails thereafter with the intention of hooking up for a beer sometime.

Last night I saw an online newspaper headline mentioning the death of a Joburg skydiver. Fearing the worst, I moved away from the computer and made a cup of coffee instead - but upon returning was really gobsmacked to see the name "Eric Stephenson".

As has been said, Eric was a wonderful guy - an intelligent, well-read free-thinker, always passionate and focussed in whatever he did, stood his ground well in debate, but yet had a calm, compassionate and caring nature too. I thoroughly enjoyed his company, and learned a lot from him.

What a sad loss. My condolences to his partner, daughters and parents.

Kevin


Andrelr  (D 270)

Oct 29, 2007, 4:12 AM
Post #139 of 268 (4967 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Very bad news indeed.
Eric, the years we spent in a CReW team together were spoken about at length last night when Cameron and I got together to discuss our somewhat unique ex-teammate.
Go well, friend, you will be missed.


flea06  (B 2436)

Oct 29, 2007, 4:32 AM
Post #140 of 268 (4941 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Tonto, you will be sadly missed by everyone! Thank you for all you wise words and wisdom! You were a great instructor and were looked up to by all. Your skills and wisdom will be difficult to match. You were always willing to help others and myself and answer any question easy or difficult. My condolences to Taya and your family and friends.

R.I.P.

Blue Skies forever...


asolomon

Oct 29, 2007, 4:35 AM
Post #141 of 268 (4938 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Tonto,
I have no words to describe what has happened. I have to thank you for the amazing privilege that I have been given to be your last student.

Normally, it would have been me writing you an email today saying how much I am still smiling after the weekend jump. Today, when I close my eyes, I see your smiling face as I was pulling, as instructed. You always smiled, but this was the Cheshire Cat smile, the big one and I am sure you still had it when you were reaching the ground.

I have only jumped 5 times with you… well, if we do not count the tandem jump that I did with Kevin and you were at the same load… and not really too happy for your just-to-become-student to do too many of tandem jumps before the proper training, as relying on someone else and skid landing was not what you wanted me to learn; I certainly hope, that one day my skills will improve enough, that my back side will not be in direct contact with the ground after landing ;-) – your comment here sure would be “LOL”. You have thought me in the past months patience and how to enjoy the day at dz just waiting, look and watch, learn from others, read the clouds and watch the blue sky.

I thank you for sharing with me thoughts, feelings and jokes. Thank you for sharing with me the enjoyment of Saturday sunset jumps. Thank you for all you have thought me ;-) to believe that I can “jump out of completely normal plane”, which (the normality of the plane) of course could be very debatable… and land with a big smile on my face and feel so incredibly free and happy ;-) Our chat about life as we waited for the plane to refill – I told you that you are an amazing instructor and you are so inspiring and it is such a pleasure to know you, a man that found his passion and happiness. Not many of us are as lucky to realize what makes us happy, fulfills our lives.

And the chat in the plane… when you said – “the sky is blue, it’s a perfect day! Think, you could be trying to find a parking place outside a full shopping mall right now, instead you are doing what you love…” and we crawled to the door, ready, set and we jumped… level five, arch, report the altitude, one practice touch and you were smiling in front of me. 360 degrees left, whaw! that went ok; right, ok, almost 360 and instead stopping I am upside down, my butt down, can see you there, following me… you said “arch and you will be ok and open the shoot… “ I arched, looked at the alti – exactly 5000! You said to open at 5000, this was one of the best arches I made, you were maybe three four meters in front, smiling… that was a big smile! I pulled the cord… Landed really nicely, thinking you would have been really proud of my landing this time (ok, the minor gravity again, but we will talk about it later…) … I can see someone had an accident… one of the boys playing with my son says “its Tonto!”. It cannot be , its supposed to be a perfect day, I am suppose to learn new lessons, smile till Monday and we were supposed to still talk about so many things, your daughters, your girlfriend, my boyfriend, the life in general and the power of universe… I was supposed to snick a photo of you or two, while you were doing your amazing landing!

Thank you for being my teacher! Thank you for sharing your passions with others, you showed me and others so much, much more than just jumping out of the plane…

Agnieszka Solomon
PS ...and thank you for calling me "a crazy polish woman" ;-)


Premier wmw999  (D 6296)

Oct 29, 2007, 5:02 AM
Post #142 of 268 (4887 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh no. NO!
I'm so sorry. He'll leave a huge, gaping hole.

I remember his first sig line (copied here from before he knew how to make it a sigline)
"Throw me to the wolves because there's order in the pack. Throw me to the sky because I know I'm coming back."
Come back, friend.

Wendy W.


(This post was edited by wmw999 on Oct 29, 2007, 5:10 AM)


vrommel  (D 885)

Oct 29, 2007, 6:07 AM
Post #143 of 268 (4751 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

When I saw t landing I rushed to him, but I was calm - it was Tonto - he'll be fine. Tonto is always fine. Some soft arse-landings when working on perfecting a new approach, but he always gets up and walks off the dz - with a smile. The minutes after that will probably be with me forever - feeling helpless as I watched the jsc staff and paramedics giving it their everything. Tonto was one of the people you'd immediately look for in situations exactly like this for guidance and to calmly and swiftly deal with the incident at hand. I couldn't believe it then and I have trouble accepting the truth now.

I remember disagreeing with t on occasion. 100% of those times he was pointing out how I could improve the safety of my skydive and I was too proud to admit that he was right - again. He was without a doubt the safest skydiver I have ever known.

As Agnieszka wrote, it was a perfect day and t was in his happy place. I shared a load with him earlier and spirits were high - it was a beautiful morning.

To Taya, Caleigh, Shanna, t's family and the jsc family: my thoughts are with you all.

We'll never forget you, t.

BSBD
Helge


BGill  (D 28834)

Oct 29, 2007, 6:18 AM
Post #144 of 268 (4718 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Damn dude. I can't believe this. We only met in person on one occasion, but in that short period of time we had a ton of fun and you made a lasting impression. Thanks for the Rare Red Dessert Penguin balloon jump misadventure, the high altitude wingsuit jump I did with you and Taya where you tumbled on exit and we totally lost each other, the countless breakfast burritos, all the great flocking, and all of your thoughtful posts on here. You were one of the good ones. You will definitely be missed. So long brotherFrown


wildfan75  (D 29536)

Oct 29, 2007, 6:50 AM
Post #145 of 268 (4652 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow...

One of the threads that I'll always remember Tonto for was "Should 8 year olds be doing tandem?" (or something to that effect). He had just done lurked his daughters tandem and posted a link to some pictures. The link for those pictures are below. I'm not sure who's got the bigger smile, him or his daughter. But its obvious in both of their eyes... I've also attached my favorite of them.

http://www.jsc.co.za/Photos.aspx?UserID=2

BSBD
Attachments: beautiful.jpg (25.3 KB)


mriesnik  (D 836)

Oct 29, 2007, 7:22 AM
Post #146 of 268 (4582 views)
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Re: [Peej] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

t, you were such a mentor to me, & so many others in life and in the sky. You're a legend who'll never be forgotten... although sadly missed.
blue skies buddy
Mark R


diverdriver  (D 19012)

Oct 29, 2007, 7:30 AM
Post #147 of 268 (4561 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

Tonto,

Damn man this sucks. Your impact on the sport will be felt for a generation or more. You did it right man. You passed on what you could when you could to make things better around you.

BSBD.


aaron111533

Oct 29, 2007, 7:31 AM
Post #148 of 268 (4552 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I never met Tonto in person, but I can tell from my interaction with him on the forums and via PM's that he was one heck of a stand-up guy. We got to know eachother over a disagreement, but after the dust cleared from that we "Shook hands" so to speak and he offered to give me advice any time, about anything. You could really tell he wanted me to pursue my goals....And achieve them. And he was willing to help a new jumper all the way from South Africa, without ever having met me. Eric and I were discussing an incident that I saw and he heard about - And he sent me this, and I thought it was appropriate to post here:


"When something like that happens - close - and we see it, and participate in the aftermath, it can traumatise us at worst, and raise questions about our own mortality at best....Whatever we do, we must not stop caring about those who are hurt or are killed. "


He was the guy that helped me get over that shock of seeing my first major incident...And get out jumping safely again...And that is some of the best advice he ever gave me above, for what it's worth.

Blue Skies Tonto...


Beverly  (D 802)

Oct 29, 2007, 7:45 AM
Post #149 of 268 (4526 views)
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Re: [sangiro] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

whew, breathe

There is a gaping hole where you used to be t.
It is not answering my questions and it is not smiling back at me.

I don't think there is another person in the world that knows more secrets about me than you.
We have shared so much, you have tought me so much. I don't know where to go to even try fill that gap.

I loved your smile, your hugs hello, your messages of encouragement with everything, skydiving, relationships, love and life.

I loved the way you loved. Loved T, Cal and Shanna, skydiving, shooting, climbing, wingsuiting, flying your canopy.

The telapathy we developed in the sky, knowing what to look for and cover with eachother with students and knowing eachother under canopy. I never felt anything but absolute trust and safety with you there on the other side grinning.

Thank you for being there when I needed you, bringing me food when I could not stand, standing by me when all I wanted to do was run away.

You have taken with you a piece of my heart and my soul.
I will miss you forever my friend.

Love and light
Bev


gainer  (D 800)

Oct 29, 2007, 8:09 AM
Post #150 of 268 (4460 views)
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Re: [Beverly] Eric (Tonto) Stephenson - Goodbye my friend [In reply to] Can't Post

I found this pic of him with agroup of us going wigsuiting for my 1000th jump at skydive extreme last year

Fly free my friend
Attachments: 63.jpg (94.7 KB)


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