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Vol. 18 - June/July 2001 - English Edition The Magazine from Skydive World


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[Updated: June 20, 2001]                    More safety issues on pages   [1]  [2]   [3]  [4]

British Woman died in France

British skydiver Susan Westwood, 23, died attempting a jump at Soulac-sur-Mer near Bordeaux in France. The accident on April 18 took place during a trip organised by the LUU sports parachute club which is part of Leeds University Union. She became tangled in the lines of her main parachute and opened her reserve chute too late. She has been seen kicking to get her legs free so the main chute would open. She released the reserve chute, but too late, it did not open in time and she was still falling fast when she hit the ground. She died on impact.

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Fatality at Air Capital Skydiving Center
by Phil Haase, dropzone owner -

Geoff Peggs, Age 21, died in a skydiving accident on Friday, June 15th in Wichita, Kansas. Geoff was making his 5th or 6th jump with a Birdman suit when he exited the Cessna 182 from 11,000 feet. Witnesses on the ground observed deployment at an estimated 4,000 feet AGL. The main parachute started to spin immediately after deployment and continued until impact. The Coroner stated that the injuries sustained upon impact caused immediate death.
Two USPA S&TA's, in cooperation with the Sedgwick County Sheriff and Coroners office conducted the investigation at the scene. The investigation showed that the right suspension lines were routed under Geoff's right arm and wrapped tightly around his right leg. The slider was wrapped around his right foot. The canopy, a cobalt 150, was fully deployed but with this "horsehoe" malfunction the canopy started an unrecoverable spin. The cutaway handle was unaccessible because of the way the suspension lines pressed the birdman wing against his body, totally covering the cutaway handle. It is the consensus of the two S&TA's investigating this incident that even if Geoff could have cut away, the suspension lines were so severely wrapped around the arms, legs, and foot that it would not have made a difference in clearing the malfunction. The reserve was not deployed, but the reserved handle was dislodged, most likely as a result of impact.
The S&TA's concur in their opinion that this incident was probably the result of deploying in an unstable body position. We have no way of knowing for sure if the Birdman suit was the only contributing factor, but since Geoff was a jumper with approx 300 jumps and no history of problems prior to this incident, Geoff's limited experience with the Birdman suit was most likely a factor in creating an unstable body position at deployment, resulting in a horsehoe malfunction. Unfortunately, because of the nature of this particular situation, Geoff was left with little or no options to correct the situation.
Geoff was an incredible guy. He seemed to fit in wherever he jumped and truly had a passion for skydiving. He was a student at Kansas State University and was planning an exciting career in aviation. He will be greatly missed by all of us. God Speed Geoff!

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Fatality at Pepperell Skydiving Center

41-year-old skydiver Charles G. "Chuck" Parsons from Groton, MA, died after a skydiving accident on June 9 at the Pepperell Skydiving Center in Massachusetts. Chuck was making a hop and pop with a Stilletto 150 and when he made a low toggle turn to final, he couldn't level his canopy in time and impacted hard, bouncing several times before stopping on tarmac. Witnesses to the accident said that Parsons, who was an experienced skydiver, miscalculated the depth of an advanced move called a "hook turn," which involves spinning around 180 degrees at a low altitude and steering downward to catch speed. After remaining in the intensive care unit at University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester for three days, Chuck's family decided to take him off life support and donate his organs.
Read the whole story at:

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Skydiver Dies After Hitting Propeller

Michele Thibaudeax, 37, an expert skydiver from Carterswell, Georgia, died in a skydiving accident on May 27 at Skydive San Marcos in Texas. She was participating in a 30-way formation skydive, exiting from a King Air which was to be flying trail behind an Otter. At exit time the King Air ended up in front and above the Otter. Shortly after exiting the King Air, Michele struck the propeller of the Otter. One camera flyer who observed the impact managed to fly to her and pull her reserve handle, succeeding on the second attempt. But the reserve had been badly damaged during the collision and did not deploy correctly. Michele landed off the DZ in a yard, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, having been seriously injured from the chest up by the prop-strike. The incident, supposedly the first of its kind in skydiving history, is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Fatality at Skydive Delmarva
by Martin Evans -

On Sunday, June 10, at about 1:50 p.m., 45 year old Peter Tome, an experienced skydiver with 600+ jumps and 10 years in the sport, along with two other experienced skydivers, made a 3-way headdown skydive from the Twin Otter at Skydive Delmarva.
The dive was uneventful until break off at 6,000 feet. At break off, as Pete tracked away, another jumper on the dive observed what is believed to have been Pete's main bridle flapping on his back. It is believed that the pin extracted from the main pack tray and that a horseshoe malfunction occurred.
It is believed that Pete was unable to extract the pilot chute from its pouch and was left with no other option but to cutaway and deploy his reserve parachute. The main canopy was held in the D-bag by one rubber band stow that contained some of the lines from the group. The reserve freebag did not completely clear the reserve and the bulk of the reserve canopy remained held in the freebag by one rubber band stow. Partial inflation of the reserve canopy occurred pulling Pete vertical. He was observed by others on the load and ground observers to be attempting to clear the problem until impact on the grass runway at which time he died immediately.

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Australian Skydiver Dies in Plane Plunge

Experienced skydiver Simon Moline, 31, died April 29 in a freak accident 13,500 feet over Skydive Nagambie in Australia. He was sucked from the single-engine Cessna Caravan with 11 skydivers on board when his parachute opened while he was standing inside the rear door. His parachute snagged on the Cessna's tail, ripping it from the fuselage and sending the plane into a spin.
Pilot Barry Dawson fought to steady the stricken craft long enough until the last parachutist had leapt to safety before giving up the controls and abandoning the doomed plane at an altitude of just 500 feet. In the very last moment Dawson managed to rip open a jammed roller door which had shut tight on the nightmare ride down and jumped out seconds before impact. The tail section of the plane had broken off and fallen to the ground near the plane's wreckage with Moline, still alive. Ambulance officers rushed to save him but he died of massive injuries soon after.

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Skydiver Dies After Apparent Heart Attack

52-year-old skydiver Dan Skarry of Oakland died May 26 during a skydive at the Parachute Center in Lodi, California. He was one of 22 jumpers in a formation when he dropped from the formation, and just seemed to go limp with his legs and arms (dangling) behind him due to the wind force. He didn't appear to be responding. His CYPRES [automatic-opening device] deployed his reserve parachute but because he was unconscious, he was unable to maneuver the parachute and landed in a backyard. Skarry passed away during the medical helicopter flight to UC Davis Medical Center. It may have been a diabetic seizure or he may have suffered a severe heart attack -- coroner information is not currently available. He had a history of both diabetes and hypertension.

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Fatality at Lake Elsinore

Skydiver Michael Scott Hoff, 39, from Las Vegas plunged to his death at Skydive Lake Elsinore in California, May 6. Hoff jumped out at 12,500 feet with 22 other skydivers and deployed his main canopy at about 3,000 feet and continued his descent. At about 500 feet he jettisoned his main parachute and failed to deploy his reserve. He didn't use a Cypres. He slammed into the ground in an open field north of the Skydive Elsinore air park. The reserve pilot chute was deployed by the impact. A preliminary inspection showed his equipment in good working condition.

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Swiss Skydiver Dies in Sebastian

33-year-old skydiver Urs Bischofberger from Switzerland died May 16 at Skydive Sebastian during an AFF Level VII skydive from 13,500 feet, accompanied by his JM and a cameraman (who was also an AFF JM). The student lost altitude awareness and when he realized it, he lost stability and did not deploy either parachute. Both JM's tried to reach him, but could not get close enough. His CYPRES fired, but due to his extreme instability a horseshoe malfunction resulted. He landed in a river, and died from the impact with the water.

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German Skydiver Killed in Low Turn

German skydiver Michael Haase, 24, died May 13 at the airport of Neuhausen near Cottus in Germany. On landing approach, Michael performed a turn at about 35 feet and his canopy collapsed slamming him into the ground. He died on impact.

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AFF Instructor Died in South Africa

A experienced 35-year-old AFF instructor died after an AFF jump at the Pretoria Skydiving Club in Wonderboom, South Africa. He had pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction due to a uncocked collapsible pilot chute. He deployed the reserve, but the main escaped after reserve deployment. The two canopies entangled, and remained in this configuration until impact. It is unknown when and if he cutaway the main canopy.

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Couple Survived Tandem Malfunction

Recently-married couple Kevin and Beverley McIlwee plummeted 10,000 feet to earth at terrifying speed when their tandem parachute failed - but amazingly both survived and escaped with a few broken bones. Beverley took up skydiving six years ago and Kevin is a qualified instructor who runs a parachute club. He has more than 4,000 jumps under his belt. During a tandem jump in France their main chute failed to deploy properly. Experienced skydiver Kevin, 47, tried to jettison it and use the reserve chute. But he could not disengage the main canopy and the reserve got tangled in it, also failing to open properly. The pair, slowed only slightly by the tangled chutes, spiralled down seven times faster than normal. But amazingly, when they hit the ground on a farm track, both survived. McIlwee suffered a badly broken leg. As the tandem passenger his wife took most of the impact and broke both feet.

More safety issues on pages   [1]   [2]   [3]  [4]

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