A St. Paul skydiving instructor had anything but a soft landing last month after allegedly attempting to parachute from atop a St. Croix County cellphone tower.
Court documents filed this week state the man’s parachute got hung up on power lines on the way down, snagging him and causing him to receive an electrical shock. The 44-year-old survived the July 29 incident, but was later charged with two felonies stemming from the failed attempt, which left 127 customers without power for nearly two hours.
Prosecutors on Wednesday, Aug. 23, charged Karl Anthony Lips-Eakins with criminal damage and criminal trespass to energy-provider property. He was due to appear in court Thursday, but the hearing was rescheduled for Oct. 16.
The incident occurred less than a month after Lips-Eakins and two others were arrested after allegedly parachuting from a cell tower in Wyoming, Minn.
According to a criminal complaint:
A St. Croix County sheriff’s deputy was called at 12:27 a.m. to Deerwood Drive and Tower Road in the town of Troy for a suspicious activity complaint.
The deputy arrived to find a St. Croix Electric employee fixing a line to the tower that appeared to have been damaged and left dozens of customers without power.
The deputy then got word from dispatchers that a caller had driven past the cell tower and spotted a parachute hanging from an electrical line on it. The witness reported seeing a “lifeless” man being carried to a nearby vehicle by someone else.
The witness followed the vehicle to Hudson Hospital, where he reported what he’d seen.
The deputy went to the hospital and asked if anyone had been recently hospitalized for an electric shock or a parachuting accident. He was directed to Lips-Eakins’ hospital room.
The deputy interviewed Lips-Eakins, who first denied parachuting from the tower. The deputy then pointed to the parachuting gear in the hospital room.
“Oh, I forgot that was in here,” the complaint states Lips-Eakins told the deputy. “Yes, I did jump from the tower.”
Lips-Eakins said he is a skydiving instructor at Twin Cities Skydiving in Baldwin. The office manager confirmed Friday that he is a part-time instructor there.
Asked by the deputy what happened, Lips-Eakins said he hopped a fence, climbed the tower and leapt from it. The parachute didn’t fully open, he told the officer, causing it to get caught on the power line.
He was shocked in the process; Lips-Eakins was later taken to Regions Hospital for his injuries.
Lips-Eakins said a friend had driven him to Hudson Hospital.
St. Croix Electric later told deputies that the outage affected 127 customers and lasted at least an hour and 45 minutes. Wages for utility workers sent to repair the line totaled about $1,750 in overtime, the deputy learned.