Donald HauckFRANKLIN -- A skydiver from Greenfield died Sunday after trying to perform a maneuver just 100 feet above land, a move that sent him slamming hard into the ground before he could complete it.
Donald Wayne Hauck, 50, died at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Franklin Flying Field, according to the Johnson County Sheriff's Office. Emergency crews soon arrived at the airfield in southern Johnson County but were unable to revive Hauck. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Hauck's son had been jumping with him on Sunday, Sheriff Doug Cox said.
Hauck had been jumping with a business called Jerry's Skydiving Circus, which is based at the Franklin field, about four miles south of Franklin. A skydiving instructor with the business, Dave Marsh, said Hauck found trouble in the final seconds of his jump.
"Some people were saying he had a parachute malfunction," Marsh said. "His parachute opened OK, but he was doing a maneuver at 100 feet."
Witnesses told the Sheriff's Office that he landed hard on the ground.
Hauck had been a skydiver for three years and had completed dozens of jumps, many of them with his son Joshua, said Bob Dougherty of Skydive Indianapolis, a Frankfort-based business where both men received their initial training. The pair took their diving to Franklin about two years ago because it was closer to their homes, he said.
Dougherty was not present in Franklin on Sunday, but he said skydivers can get in trouble if they execute sharp "hook turns" in the final few hundred feet before landing. Like an airplane making a turn, the chute can turn at a steep angle. If the skydiver doesn't straighten out before getting to the ground, the landing can be hard and dangerous.
"It is the single biggest source of fatalities in the sport," he said. "You're turning too low for your parachute to recover."
Dougherty said there is no reason to make a turn so low, and he instructs his jumpers to avoid them below 500 feet. Nobody does it purposely, he said, but it's possible Hauck could have misjudged the situation.
"What you do at 2,000 feet doesn't matter, but once you get down to 500 feet you need to be prepared for landing," Dougherty said. "If you make a turn like that and you misjudge it, you can get killed."
Marsh, the instructor with the Franklin business, declined to describe the maneuver Hauck performed.
The Sheriff's Office deemed the death an accident. FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) – A Greenfield man was killed in a skydiving accident in Franklin on Sunday. According to a release from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, officers were called to the Franklin Flying Field, located at 3477 South 200 East in Franklin, on the report of an injured skydiver. When emergency personnel arrived, they found 50-year-old Donald Wayne Hauck, of Greenfield, unconscious and CPR being performed.
Hauck suffered severe leg injuries. Police say a medical helicopter was called to the scene. Despite lifesaving efforts, Hauck was pronounced dead. His parachute was open, but witnesses say something happened when he was about 100 feet from landing.
“Witnesses said he came in at a high rate of speed, they’re not sure if there was abnormal lift,” said Deputy Jeremy Witherington, Johnson Co. Sheriff’s Office. “According to one of the witnesses, it looked like the parachute kind of jumped a little bit as he was turning in at a 180 degree turn.” After the maneuver Hauck’s chute never recovered, sending him into the ground.
Workers at Franklin Flyign Field didn’t want to comment on what happened out of respect of Hauck’s family. However, one sky diver who works there says he was very close to Hauck, as were a lot of people who worked and jumped there often. The incident shocked not only the sky diving community, but those who see them jump every day.
“At any given time you can look up in the sky and see four to eight parachutes coming down,” said George Reinacker. Deputy Witherington said the FAA will open an investigation into this case. According the United States Parachute Association, there were 24 fatal sky diving accidents in the U.S. in 2013, out of a total of 3.2 million jumps.