A former Lompoc resident who worked as a skydive instructor and was known by friends as an adventurous thrill-seeker was killed Thursday in a plane crash off the shore of Mexico.
Robin Ballachey, who was from Lake Tahoe, was in Mexico to work as a skydive instructor for the summer, according to a friend. The Vallarta Daily, a newspaper out of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, reported Thursday evening that a small Cessna 180 crashed into the Bay of Banderas off the coast at Las Glorias Beach in Puerto Vallarta. The paper reported that three of the five passengers on the plane were rescued.
Though the paper did not identify any of the passengers, the 33-year-old Ballachey was confirmed by those who knew her in Lompoc as one of the two passengers who died in the crash.
David Hughes, the owner of Skydive Santa Barbara, where Ballachey worked for at least a few years, said Friday that he and the rest of the staff at the company were still reeling from hearing the news that morning.
“It was a big shock to us,” he said. “It’s a close-knit family here, so everybody here knew her really well. Everybody liked her. She was a wonderful person.”
Hughes said many of the people at the Puerto Vallarta center are friends with people at the Lompoc jump site.
Hughes said that he is in the process of planning a memorial jump event for Ballachey at Skydive Santa Barbara, which is based at the Lompoc Airport. That event likely will take place May 17.
Lompoc resident Elizabeth Martinez is also in the planning stages of a fundraiser to benefit Ballachey’s family.
Martinez said she was Ballachey’s hairdresser and often hung out with her at The Village Office Bar in Vandenberg Village, where Ballachey was a part-time bartender.
“She was beautiful, for sure, and she was one of the sweetest people you’d ever meet,” Martinez said. “She was the most adventurous person I’ve ever met in my whole life.”