8. Death of Jon James

Chantelle Deacon

The number eight story on Castanet Vernon's 2018 top 10 list was the tragic death of stunt-rapper, while filming a music video.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in October when Jon James McMurray died in a plane incident near Vernon.

The incident, on Oct. 20, quickly gained worldwide interest and his name appeared on national and international headlines.

The 34-year-old man was a well-known musician, who was from Calgary but was living in Los Angeles before his death.

Castanet initially received multiple reports of the incident, which occurred near the community of Westwold, roughly 60 km northwest of Vernon.

The first news tip came from a man living in the area who claimed he saw a person falling through the sky, but did not see their chute open.

On Sunday, Castanet was told exclusively by one of Jon James best friends that he has passed away in the tragic incident.

Ryan Desrochers the manager for Jon James told Castanet, "He died filming for a project he had been working on for months. His final act included performing an airplane stunt that included rapping while walking on the wing."

"He had trained intensely for this stunt, however, as Jon got further out onto the wing of the plane, it caused the small Cessna to go into a downward spiral that the pilot couldn’t correct."

"Jon held onto the wing until it was too late, and by the time he let go, he didn’t have time to pull his chute. He impacted and died instantly."

The investigation into the incident was taken over by BC Coroners Service and the Transportation Safety Board.

The stunt-rapper was previously known as an extreme sports athlete, competing professionally in freestyle skiing.

Castanet was the only media invited to the Celebration of Life for Jon James, which was held in Calgary on Nov. 3.

Hundreds of friends and family filled the room and remembered the vibrant personality of Jon James.

It was clear that Jon James made a positive impact on everyone who knew him.

"Jon was the best friend you could ever ask for, the friend that was there," said Rory Bushfield, one of Jon's best friends. "He had time always, for everyone."

"If there was one thing that I could say to Jon today it would be why did you leave me this massive body of work to put out for you bro," said Chris Biollo, one of Jon's best friends. "It is so sick, why can't you be here to share it with us?"  

"But at the same time, I'm so grateful and so thankful for everything that you shared with me."

Jon's friends are working together to release the many songs he had written and recorded.

"We had a relationship that was very unfiltered," said Erik Peiluck, one of Jon's best friends. "He was the one person I had that I could speak to and know that I was getting 100 per cent the truth and when I spoke to him it was the same way."

"He just stood out to me the second I saw him," said Briana Nisbet, one of Jon's best friends. "He was just this beam of light. His energy was so positive."

"There are a million things I wish I could say to him, but I love you so, so much and you were the most positive person I've ever met in my life. I'm so happy you were one of my best friends and I'm so glad for the time we spent together."

It was clear that Jon made an impact on thousands of lives.

While his family and friends slowly entered the room you could almost hear a pin drop, but as memories of Jon were shared, laughter and loved filled the room.

"I love you, Jon," said Bushfield. "Thank you for teaching me how beautiful life is before and after you left. I miss you, man, and I'm f****** proud of you."

After his death, his music was shared throughout media worldwide.

His friends said it would have been Jon's dream for his music to make international headlines.

The exact cause of the incident that resulted in Jon's death has not yet been released to the public.

More Vernon News