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[Updated: August 29, 2001] More safety issues on pages  
|Blue skies and safe landings!|
|Fatal Accident at the Pond Swoop Nationals|
The Pond Swoop National Championships at the Blue Sky Ranch in Gardiner, NY, was overshadowed by the fatal accident of a competitor during the last round of the event.
On Sunday afternoon, August 26, Lisa Gallagher  from Ohio was fatally injured during her final approach for an swoop accuracy landing on a raft in the middle of the pond. She was using a conservative carving approach and then did a left hand turn towards the pond. The left side of her Crossfire 89 (loaded at 1:1.4) collapsed three separate times. It collapsed from the tail forward, collapsing three cells entirely and the fourth about 99%, leaving just the nose of the fourth still inflated.
The trees near her turning point are about 70 feet high and this all took place below tree top level. So she was at about 50 feet when the first collapse occurred, possibly caused by a ferocious rotor coming off the trees. Any forward movement she had was largely momentum from the turn and not real flight anymore. She pretty much fell as opposed to flew and hit the ground at high speed. Lisa was air-lifted to a near trauma center where she was pronounced dead one hour later.
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The summer of 2001 is a black one for the skydiving community. 19 skydivers worldwide lost their lives over the past two months. Sadly enough, again too many died under a fully functional canopy! Do we see a terrible "trend" here? Stay safe out there!
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50-year-old German skydiver Hans-Georg Witte fell to his death on July 28 at the Parachute Club in Albstadt, Germany. After a jump from 3500 meters, his main parachute failed to open and he pulled his reserve just shortly before impact. His gear was equipped with a Cypres AAD but it did not fire. The Cypres was send to the manufacturer "Airtec" to determine why it failed. No further information is available.
The jumper cut away and pulled his reserve. The freebag was found close to him with only about three feet of the lines unstowed. The CYPRES did fire but the loop was not cut.
During the day this jumper made a jump on a dropzone which was located at a different altitude [about 600 feet lower] than his home dropzone. After this jump he boarded the plane back to his home dropzone where he also intended to jump. He didn't change the setting of his CYPRES to a higher altitude as recommended in the User's Guide. So, on his fatal jump the CYPRES fired at the correct altitude but in relation to the dropzone from which the plane took off and which was located 600 feet lower. Thus the CYPRES fired only shortly before impact right after the jumper himself activated the reserve. This explains the activation of the cutter without damaging the loop.
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Andrei Gerasimov died in an skydiving accident at Skydive Hollister in California, August 19. He was jumping together with another skydiver and at opening they found themselves far away from the dropzone. Andrei tried to reach the dropzone, didn't succeed and had to find a landing spot in a bad area, with steep hills, and obstacles. He turned low over a hill top, avoiding a house and a downwind landing, and hit steep hillside at full speed. Probably, freak wind direction at this spot contributed to that. He was given CPR, but died a little later from a massive head trauma. The second jumper, who witnessed the fateful flight, turned around at 1200 feet and landed safely in a remote field.
* * *
A 55-year-old Belgian skydiver died August 18 at the Paraclub Elsenborn in Belgium. The left steering line of his big F111 canopy broke right below the cascade on opening and he decided to fly the canopy down. On landing approach he suddenly pulled his remaining brake at approximately 200 feet which sent him into radical spins. He spiraled until he impacted a few feet beside the runway. He was given CPR without success and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses stated that it would have been possible to land this "forgiving" canopy safely with the rear risers or even without flaring at all, given the wind conditions, the spot and the size of the canopy. The jumper had been 10 years in the sport but with only a few jumps every year. A lack of experience and extreme stress might have caused his reaction on landing.
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A 31-year-old German skydiver died August 15 in Kerlingen, Germany. He was going to deliver the ball for a soccer game when his parachute stalled 50 meters [150 feet] above the ground due to a pilot's error. The parachute didn't inflate again in time and the jumper landed hard and suffered deadly head injuries.
* * *
32-year old skydiver Mauricio Zorzan died August 10 at the World Freefall Convention in Quincy, Illinois, USA. He was making a freefly skydive, while carrying a "tube". A tube is typically a 20-feet-long by approximately 2-feet-wide cylinder of fabric attached to a solid ring which is then either held by one hand, or affixed to one or both feet.
The jumper was holding the tube in his left hand on opening. Jumpers observing his deployment said he was very head high, allowing the tube to interact with his main before it was even clear of the d-bag. The main was mostly inflated and observers from the ground watched as he struggled with the tube and his risers. The entanglement created a fairly aggressive spiral. He continued trying to free the tube from his main without success and then pulled the reserve. The reserve deployed and became entangled with Mauricio and the rest of the mess over his head. He was unable to use his arms in the reserve wrap and was falling in a deadly spiral to the ground. Mauricio had no pulse and was unresponsive when emergency medical personnel stationed at the airport reached him. He was rushed to Blessing Hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.
The opinion was voiced that he stood a good chance of being able to land his main without incident had he simply released the tube, but he hung on to it. Even if the tube and the main entangled, a cutaway would have allowed him to land under a good reserve.
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Experienced skydiver Andy Dobbs died August 2 at Skydive Monroe in Georgia, USA. He was making a solo jump from 5500 feet. After normal deployment and canopy flight, Andy made a radical turn for final approach and did not have time to recover before striking the ground, and then the wing tip of a parked aircraft. Andy was air lifted to Baptist Hospital Trauma Unit where he died six hours later from severe head trauma and internal injuries.
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One man died and another man was seriously injured July 29 after a mid-air collision between two British parachutists at the Centro de Paracaidismo Empuriabrava in Spain. Robert Monk, 39, was killed instantly after colliding with his 35-year-old friend John Carew in freefall over the Costa Brava. Towards the end of a 3-way skydive, the two jumpers collided at around 4500 feet just after break off. Robert Monk's death was caused by severe head injuries, which he suffered while hitting his friend's leg. John Carew had multiple leg injuries and was brought to a hospital where he remained in stable condition. Both jumpers ended up with deployed parachutes, but the deceased is thought to have been killed in the collision and not on landing. The police on the Costa Brava and a local judge have opened an investigation into the incident.
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A 34-year old skydiver died July 28 in Beiseker, Alberta, Canada. For reasons as yet unknown, the deceased made a sharp low turn (more than a 360!), and hit the ground while still turning. No further information is available.
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John Foster, age 37, died July 26 at the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Elberta, Alabama, USA. He was filming a tandem pair. He deployed his main chute at 2,500 feet, but it got tangled in the camera on his helmet. He tried to cut away the main chute but could not get it completely cleared. As he deployed his reserve chute at 1,000 feet, it got tangled up in the main chute. He landed hard in a field with the two entangled canopies. He was conscious when rescuers reached him and was air lifted to a nearby hospital where he died about four hours later.
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British Royal Navy skydiver Lt. Dave Payton, 26, was killed July 25 during a demo jump of the Raiders Parachute Display Team, in Portsmouth, UK. He made a low turn before landing and did not complete the turn before impact.
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28-year-old American skydiver Erin Engle died during a BASE jump from Mount Brento in northern Italy. The 3,000-foot sheer cliff is one of the most popular - and dangerous - base jumping spots in the world. On July 22, Erin and her boyfriend climbed the cliff to make their second jump, they already had jumped the cliff a day before. Erin left the exit point ahead of her friend and found herself to be head down. She seemed to skydive her way out of her head down position but at some point her body position apparently became unstable causing her canopy to open with line twists. When her canopy first deployed, it was flying away from the cliff but soon thereafter started a slow rotation. Several times, Erin was observed to have momentarily gained control of her canopy. Unfortunately, the last time she was observed to have control of the canopy, it was flying toward the face of the cliff. Erin was probably incapacitated from her first contact with the cliff and lost control of the canopy which continued to spiral and sent her into the wall several times. Her boyfriend, after noticing that things went terribly wrong, called somebody in the landing area and learned that Erin was on a ledge at the bottom of the cliff maybe 2500 feet from the precipice. He then jumped off the cliff, landing as close to Erin as he could and climbed the rest of the way to help her. A helicopter picked them up from the rocks and on the flight to the hospital, Erin died of massive trauma to her head and chest.
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Australian skydive instructor Robin Poole, 33, died July 19 at the Ramblers Skydiving Center in Toogoolawah, Australia. After an uneventful skydive, he approached the landing area and did a 90-degree front riser turn at about 140 feet. He released the front riser input at about 50 feet and immediately began to flare with his canopy still being in a steep dive, close to the ground. As soon as tension was applied to the brakes, the left brake line snapped below the brake lock and broke. The jumper tried to level the diving canopy with his back risers but did not have time before impacting the ground. He suffered severe injuries involving leg and hip fractures and internal injuries. He died three hours later at a hospital.
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58-year-old Ray Sharoian, a veteran skydiver with 1193 jumps, died July 18, 2001 at Skydive Tecumseh in Michigan, USA, after his main parachute had a line-over malfunction. He cutaway while spinning and pulled the reserve. He was jumping with his own equipment. His round reserve had severe line twists and did not open in time to slow his fall and he died on impact.
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A 57-year old German skydiver died July 14 at Skydive Ganderkesee near Oldenburg in Germany. After an uneventful 3-way formation skydive from 4000 meters, the group separated at 1500 meters to open their parachutes. Nobody in the air or on the ground saw what happened after the separation. When the jumper didn't return to the dropzone a search was conducted and he was found dead in a field near the airport. None of his parachutes were deployed and his gear didn't have a Cypres installed. First speculations that the jumper might have had a heart attack or a stroke could not be confirmed by the autopsy. After this accident the dropzone announced an immediate Cypres mandatory.
* * *
22-year-old Allison Hoffman died July 9 at the Chicago Skydiving Center in Ottawa, IL, USA. Nobody witnessed the accident. After she didn't return to the dropzone, concerned skydivers found her body two hours later in a remote timber area about three miles northeast of Ottawa. It can be assumed that Allison deployed extremely low, and then her CYPRES fired her reserve, which caused an entanglement with her main parachute. She managed a cutaway somewhere below 250 feet which didn't improve the situation.
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A 52-year old skydiver died July 4 at the "Sky's the Limit Parachute Center"
in Beeville, Texas. While approaching the landing area too high he was heading towards power lines on the other side of the landing area. He initiated a hard turn, too low to recover, and was critically injured on landing. He was evacuated by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he passed away. He had 40 jumps and had made about 10 jumps on his Triathlon 190, which was loaded at perhaps 1.1 lb/ft^2. He had only jumped student canopies until that point.
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A 56-year-old skydiver broke his neck and died July 1 during the landing after a night jump in Italy. Information is sketchy. He was on a small canopy, and it is unclear if he failed to flare, was distracted by the moon, or turned too low.
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A 27-year-old German skydiver died June 24 at the Parachute Center in Lodi, USA. It was the jumper's fourth static line jump and his third jump of the day. He exited stable and experienced a partial malfunction of his main parachute due to a slider hang up. The parachute was rotating, and he cut his main parachute away at an estimated altitude of 300 feet and pulled the reserve handle. The equipment was equipped with an RSL and a Cypres which also both activated after he released his main parachute. However it was too low for the reserve parachute to open. Only the lines had time to release. He was found with the reserve handle pulled in his left hand, both reserve risers in his hands, and two stows still on the free bag.
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A 30-year-old British skydiver died during his first static line jump June 23 at
the Tilstock Parachute Center, UK. He back looped through his lines on exit, and became entangled with the risers. No cutaway was made, and the rate of decent was not sufficient to fire the Expert CYPRES. The parachute landed while still spiraling, and the student died on impact. A later report indicated that the reserve entangled with the main, so probably either he pulled the handle, or the CYPRES did, in fact, fire.
Last reports state that the jumper in fact pulled the reserve himself and the CYPRES did not fire. The rate of decent was not sufficient to fire the Expert CYPRES.
More safety issues on pages