Investor in Grand Canyon Skywalk dies at 51
FILE- In this file photo taken March 7, 2007, David Jin is all smiles at the rollout for the Skywalk on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Grand Canyon West, Ariz. A representative says Jin the Chinese tour operator and Las Vegas businessman and who built the Grand Canyon Skywalk attraction in northwestern Arizona has died in Los Angeles. A Grand Canyon Skywalk Development spokesman said that Jin died Thursday June 13, 2013 at UCLA Medical Center after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 51. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Las Vegas businessman who developed the Grand Canyon Skywalk glass bridge in northwestern Arizona and later became entangled in legal battles about it has died in Los Angeles, a company representative said Friday.
David Jin died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center after a four-year battle with cancer, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development spokesman David Weissman said. He was 51.
Jin's death comes amid a continuing legal fight over his contractual rights to the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottomed walkway that has become the Hualapai Tribe's premier tourist attraction. An attorney for the development company said Jin's family will continue to pursue Skywalk legal rights.
Jin, originally from Shanghai, moved to the U.S. in 1988 and operated Oriental Tours Inc. and Y-Travel LLC in Las Vegas.
He already was ferrying tourists 2½ hours from Las Vegas to the west rim of the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai reservation when he approached the tribe with an idea to build the Skywalk. It opened in 2007.
The structure juts out 70 feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon's sheer limestone walls, offering visitors a unique view some 4,000 feet down to the Colorado River, which appears as a thin brown ribbon.
"Our thinking is that, if a human being could walk over the canyon, if they had the opportunity, even handicapped people, it's just really, really, you know, something," Jin told The Associated Press in 2006.
Jin invested $30 million to build the Skywalk. In exchange, the tribe agreed to split the profits from ticket sales with him over 25 years. But Jin's relationship with the tribe soured in recent years, with the two sides wrangling over management fees and an unfinished visitor center.
FILE - This March 20, 2007 file photo shows people walking on the Skywalk during the First Walk event at the Grand Canyon on the Hualapai Indian Reservation at Grand Canyon West, Ariz. David Jin the Chinese tour operator and Las Vegas businessman and who built this Grand Canyon Skywalk attraction in northwestern Arizona has died in Los Angeles. A Grand Canyon Skywalk Development spokesman said that Jin died Thursday June 13, 2013 at UCLA Medical Center after a four-year battle with cancer. He was 51.(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, file)
The tribe enforced eminent domain over the contract last year, essentially writing Jin out of his management role. Jin challenged the jurisdiction of the Hualapai court overseeing that case.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Jin had to exhaust the battle in tribal court before turning to the federal court. A request for rehearing by the full court was rejected last week.