NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson thanked fans, friends and sponsors Friday for their support after news emerged that his brother-in-law had died in a skydiving accident in San Diego.
Jordan Janway, 27 -- the brother of Jimmie’s wife, Chandra -- died March 30. He collided with another jumper midair and then went into a freefall without his parachute deployed at a small gliderport in the Jamul area of San Diego.
“This week has been a very difficult week for the Janway family. It’s been so tough for myself to sit back and watch the people I love so much deal with so much pain,” Johnson said during brief interview session before practicing for the premiere series at Texas Motor Speedway.
His family spent time the night before swapping stories about Jordan -- smiling more than crying.
“Things are progressing, and everybody is as good as you could hope,” said Johnson.
The six-time Sprint Cup champ said he will try to switch his mind to the race ahead on Sunday, but he wanted to take a chance Friday to thank everyone who expressed their condolences.
“The few times I did check into social media, there’s just been a huge outpouring of support, and I’m very thankful.”
Janway, an instructor at Skydive San Diego, had more than 1,000 jumps under his belt, according to his boss Buzz Fink.
According to Fink, there is a chip in parachute bags that will automatically deploy the chute if the jumper is falling too fast. However, Janway’s chip was undergoing maintenance, and he chose to jump without it on the day he died.
Johnson, a San Diego native himself, remembered his lost brother-in-law fondly, calling him a free spirit.
“He was a very adventurous guy -- base-jumping and parachuting and wearing the squirrel suits, like you see the guys flying along the cliff sides. That's what he did,” said Johnson. “He's in a lot of those videos shooting that footage. Tragic death, for sure. But he was doing something he loved. He was very passionate about it. He never met a stranger. A very warm, caring young man, and he's definitely going to be missed."