Two deadly skydiving accidents in three days: How dangerous is parachuting?


Two days after an Army parachutist died following a jump at the Chicago Air & Water Show, an experienced jumper in Vermont lost his life in another skydiving accident.

On Wednesday, Vermont police told local reporters at WCAX that veteran skydiver Joseph Crossley died Monday in West Addison after he jumped out of a plane and made a hard landing in a field.

Authorities say Mr. Crossley, an experienced jumper, was an instructor with Vermont Skydiving Adventures in West Addison, which operated the jump.

The preliminary investigation reveals the East Hardwick native’s parachute at least partially opened on his jump. Police will wait for an autopsy report to rule on a cause of death.

Two days prior to Crossley’s fatal jump, on Saturday, Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood of Cincinnati had an accident during a skydiving stunt at the Chicago Air & Water Show. Sergeant Hood died Sunday.

During the Chicago Air & Water Show, the Army Golden Knights and Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams were performing a stunt when Hood collided with a Navy skydiver and was knocked unconscious.

According to witnesses, Hood’s emergency parachute deployed, but he drifted into a high-rise apartment building before falling to the ground.

Jim Crouch, director of safety and training at the US Parachute Association told the Associated Press that if two or more jumpers bump into each other while falling in the same direction, nothing serious might happen. But if they collide while going in different directions, the great speed can cause severe injuries, he said. If a parachutist is unconscious, “you just drift where the parachute takes you,” he said.

Skydiving incidents are rare in the United States. In the more than 50 years since the Golden Knights team was formed, there have been few recorded fatalities; the first in 1970, in Corpus Christi, Texas, and the second in 1980, in Fredericksburg, Va., according to the Golden Knights Alumni Association website. The website adds that other members have died during training jumps.

While there is no available statistics for the exact number of military parachuting fatalities, United States Parachute Association website has the statistics of civilian skydiving incidents. In 2014 there were 24 fatal civilian skydiving accidents and 729 skydiving injuries out of about 3.2 million jumps.

Over the past decade the year with the highest number of fatalities was 2008 when 30 out of 2.6 million jumps turned fatal. The year with the fewest deaths was 2009, when there were just 16 fatal accidents out of 3 million jumps.


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