A skydiving instructor died in Texas during a jump with a student when his parachute did not open.
A male instructor, whose identity wasn’t immediately released, suffered “severe” injuries in the tandem jump at Skydive Houston in Waller, Texas Saturday afternoon. He was rushed to Memorial Hermann Medical Center.
The company said that the instructor’s female student was airlifted to a hospital with “serious” injuries, but is expected to survive.
Skydive Houston said in a statement to USA TODAY: “Skydive Houston, along with the greater skydiving community at large, is deeply saddened by the loss of our tandem instructor and friend. Our sincerest condolences are extended to his friends and family. We continue to pray for a full recovery for the injured tandem student.”
Waller County Sheriff Troy Guidry told CNN that a female skydiving customer and her male instructor were doing a tandem jump Saturday afternoon near the city of Waller, northwest of Houston, and “the parachute failed to open.”
He added: “The primary and secondary (parachutes) both just kind of swirled down.” Guidry said both were flown to Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston where they were listed in critical condition on Saturday night.
Alex Arias, a witness, told Houston station KPRC that he saw the victims struggling with their parachutes in the air and later found the instructor unconscious on the ground.
Arias said: “He let off his primary and then the secondary chute like opened halfway up, so he didn’t fall like a straight fall, he was like 50% chute, like a corkscrew.”
Parachuting, including also skydiving, is a method of transiting from a high point in the atmosphere to the surface of Earth with the aid of gravity, involving the control of speed during the descent using a parachute or parachutes.
For human skydiving, it may involve a phase of more or less free-falling (the skydiving segment) which is a period when the parachute has not yet been deployed and the body gradually accelerates to terminal velocity.
Skydive Houston told the NYP that tandem skydiving accidents are “extremely rare. According to the United States Parachute Association, there has been just one student fatality per 500,000 jumps in the last 10 years.
Sheriff Guidry said the cause of the accident is under investigation and Skydive Houston said jump operations are suspended pending local law enforcement and FAA investigations.
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