CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Jeff Toll, 26, was killed Tuesday in Chesapeake after a power paragliding crash. The accident is still under investigation by Virginia State Police.
“He loved the views and the freedom of it,” said Shane Denherder about Toll’s love of paragliding. “I think it was a lot about friends, too.”
Denherder is one of the many friends Toll made through the paramotoring sport. Denherder and others came to town to be with Toll’s family and attend his funeral. He said Toll had been paramotoring since 2008 and was considered one of the best in the country.
Toll’s life was cut short on Tuesday on a farm in the Hickory area. Toll’s fellow pilots said he was only in the air about ten minutes before he crashed on the farm off Beaver Dam Road. Initial reports from Virginia State Police said Toll hit power lines then crashed to the ground, but the autopsy confirmed he did not hit any lines. Friends and witnesses of the crash said he started to fall well above the power lines.
“It appears as though there was some type of event or malfunction,” explained Denherder, who wasn’t present when the accident happened. “And it just happened too low for him to recover from.”
Others told WAVY.com Toll started to fall from about 50 to 75 feet in the air.
Denherder, Toll, and Byron Leisek own a paramotoring company called Team Fly Halo. The three, who became connected through the small sport, train people to fly throughout the country.
Jon Jernigan, one of Toll’s friends, said the 26-year-old grew up in Virginia Beach and graduated from Salem High School in 2006. He was living in Chesapeake with his wife, and high school sweetheart, Jessica.
“They’ve been together their entire adult life,” Denherder said. “They were pretty inseparable.”
Friends have set up a fundraising site to support Toll’s wife, Jessica. For more information, click here.