A Colorado woman has died in a skydiving accident during a tandem jump which occurred west of Maricopa on Saturday morning, it has been reported. Her instructor was also seriously injured, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Teller County resident Jeriann Henderson, aged 26, was taking part in the Accelerated Skydiving Program at Skydive Phoenix Inc, on West Dasher Drive.
According to Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, it was the second time that she was executing a tandem jump, and it proved to be the last time also.
Shortly following the crash, first responders arrived on location, around 34 miles south of Phoenix, and northwest of Bowlin and Hidden Valley Roads. Unfortunately, the wounds Henderson had suffered had been too extensive and profound, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Apparently, there was a jump failure which led to the deadly accident, and investigators consider this a highly unusual and exceptionally rare event since skydiving is normally so strictly regulated and safety standards are followed to a tee.
Henderson’s instructor, 47-year old Todd Dimauro, had successfully completed more than 5,000 jumps, and had been fully qualified as a professional skydiver.
As a result of the accident, he broke both of his legs and sustained other severe injuries, and was flown immediately by helicopter to a medical center located nearby. However, representatives of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office have declared that Dimauro is expected to recover, given enough time to rest and heal.
An investigation is currently being carried out by the Federal Aviation Administration, in order to determine if the plane from which the tandem skydivers jumped was in normal condition, and if the pattern it followed corresponded to its scheduled route.
Officials are also looking into how the parachute had been stored and packed before the fateful jump.
Representatives of the United States Parachute Association have also arrived at the scene, and will be doing their own independent analysis, so as to establish what exactly led to Henderson’s fatal fall.
Moreover, a parallel inquest is being conducted by the Pinal County Sheriff”s Office, aided by the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s Office. It is expected that an autopsy of the deceased skydiver will take place sometime next week.
So far, as revealed by a statement released by Skydive Phoenix representatives, investigators have determined that the woman’s main parachute wasn’t used, although for now preliminary reports don’t specify if the equipment had malfunctioned or it was actually a human error.
Even though the secondary, reserve parachute opened correctly, the landing was hampered probably due to a dust devil or some other kind of wind turbulence. As a result, the pair hit the ground abruptly, and the hard-impact landing proved fatal.
The skydiving school has extended its condolences to the victim’s family and friends, sending prayers to the instructor who is still recovering in hospital.
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