North Texas teen dies in skydiving accident celebrating birthday in Colorado

A North Texas high school student died in a Colorado skydiving accident while celebrating his birthday.

Dayton Bryant was supposed to have a fun trip with his father to celebrate his upcoming 18th birthday. But he did not make it back home after his solo dive turned tragic.

When Dayton wasn’t playing the tuba for the Azle High School marching band or touring with the Drum Corp, he loved adventure. For his 18th birthday, his dad wanted to create a special memory.

“He was given the choice beach or mountains. Of course, he chose mountains,” said Sunja Stevens, Bryant’s mom. “He’s blaming himself. Unwarranted, of course. He refuses to leave Colorado without his son.”

Dayton sent one last photo to his mom before his skydive with High Sky Adventures on Sunday in Fremont County, Colorado.

“He asked me if I knew what kind of sky diving he would be doing. I assumed tandem. That’s when he told me about this type of skydiving called static line,” Stevens recalled. “I was trying to be supportive of his celebration and what he wanted to do.”

The chief deputy for the Freemont County coroner said Dayton’s death was ruled an accident.

The FAA has no requirement that first dives be tandem, but Stevens wants that to change.

“I do feel if he hadn’t jumped alone, I wouldn’t be sitting here with you,” she said.

The coroner’s chief deputy said Dayton’s parachute went into a spiral, but there were no faults in the equipment.

“For me to hope this does not happen to someone else is an understatement,” Stevens said.

Dayton’s death now leaves a big hole at Azle High School, where he was about to graduate in May.

“Nothing can replace Dayton,” said Azle High School Asst. Band Director Brandon Day.

“If you knew him, you knew he loved his mom and loved his dad,” said Reagan Duckworth, Dayton’s friend.

“Last time I saw my son, I did tell him I love you,” Stevens recalled. “Last words I texted were: ‘I love you.’”

High Sky Adventures has not been able to be reached for comment.

Azle High School will have grief counselors on campus for students when they return for spring break.