New Zealand paraglider’s death in Nevada ruled accidental

Body discovered almost a month after search was suspended

Associated Press
September 22, 2020 - 9:00 am
Picture of New Zealand paraglider James "Kiwi" Johnston

Nye County Sheriff's Office


EUREKA, Nev. (AP) — The body of a well known paraglider from New Zealand has been recovered from a mountainous site in a remote part of Nevada, a sheriff said Monday.

Sheriff Jesse Watts said a passerby noticed a parachute last Wednesday and searchers on Friday reached the body of James “Kiwi” Johnston in the Fish Creek mountains of Eureka County.

“No foul play. Pure accident,” said Watts, who also serves as Eureka County coroner. He said Johnston died of multiple injuries from a high-elevation fall.

Johnston disappeared Aug. 23 while about 250 miles east of Reno and 200 miles north of Las Vegas. He was attempting to fly west-to-east across Nevada.

Searchers from several counties scoured the area for almost a week before suspending operations Aug. 29.

The New Zealand Herald reported that Johnston also used the name Oroc. He was a journalist, photographer and artist who regularly flew long distances.

In November 2018, he broke his previous New Zealand overseas open distance record in Brazil.

Johnston lifted off from Nevada’s Shoshone Mountain, near Round Mountain, and planned to fly to Wendover on the Nevada-Utah line. He was with two other pilots who reported him missing 24 hours later.