Fort Funston shooting victim succumbs to wounds

The ashes of Dan Murphy, a hang-gliding pilot gunned down in a Fort Funston parking lot, will return to the sky.

The 48-year-old San Francisco master hang glider died Saturday, five days after a gunman shot him in a seemingly random attack before turning the gun on himself.

Murphy’s ashes will be scattered by a hang glider over Fort Funston in the next week or so, said Fort Funston Fellow Feathers Club member and friend Gordon Pollack.

“It’s what he wanted,” Pollack said.

The former commercial pilot loved being in the air, friends said. Murphy was rated as a master pilot, meaning he was in the most skilled category of hang gliders.

Friends are reeling from the shooting that left another glider, Kurt Schmitz, injured but expected to survive following surgery.

Will Smith, the 59-year-old shooter, had been wandering around the parking lot at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area for hours when Murphy arrived around 7 p.m. on his motorcycle, officials said.

He shot Murphy in the head before shooting Schmitz in the back, according to police.

Smith, who lived in The City, unsuccessfully fired at a third hang glider before shooting himself.

Fellow hang glider and Murphy friend Eves Tall Chief said the shooting happened in a place where people go to find serenity and escape the world.

“You would never think he would get shot,” another friend, Rick Dumiak, said. “This is total insanity.”

Dumiak said his friend was a free spirit and a natural at everything he tried: scuba diving, motorcycle riding, flying planes and fixing BMW motorcycles.

Video clips on the Internet show Murphy guiding his hang glider down into a wheelbarrow where he touched his feet — a second before a friend pushed the winged cargo over the cliff at Fort Funston, propelling him into the air over the Pacific Ocean.

Murphy was perhaps best known for a mishap 20 years ago, during a Telluride, Colo., competition in which his glider nearly disintegrated at 1,500 feet. He escaped virtually unharmed.

“He was like Houdini,” Eves Tall Chief said. “He knew the treasure of being alive.”

mcarroll@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

NO CONNECTION TO SERVER:
Unable to connect to GPS server ‘blackpress.newsengin.com’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed spoke at the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library main branch on April 20. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
SF reopening more libraries through the summer

After a handful of San Francisco public libraries reopened last month for… Continue reading

Most Read