Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fatal accident occurred November 21, 2015 at Goulburn Airport, New South Wales

A "freak wind" was responsible for the death of one person and the serious injury of another in a skydiving accident at Goulburn airport on Saturday afternoon, an instructor says.

Four people were participating in tandem skydives just before 2 pm when a man and a teenager were hit by a sudden gust of wind close to the ground, causing them to drop in an uncontrollable freefall, it's believed. The second pair caught the edge of the gust but managed to get away.

The man died at the scene. He is yet to be formally identified, but it's believed he was an "extremely experienced" 44-year-old skydiving instructor who had worked for Adrenalin Skydive in Goulburn for eight years.

The 14-year-old boy, believed to be on his first skydive, was treated by paramedics and taken by helicopter to Westmead Childrens Hospital in Sydney early on Saturday afternoon.

Yaakov Bokay, an instructor for Adrenalin Skydive, was watching the pair descend when tragedy struck.

"It happened about 5 to 10 metres from the ground," he said.

"Everything was perfect and a wind gust, a willy-willy, came up and collapsed the canopy and both dropped to the ground."

Mr. Bokay said it was the first time the instructor had met the boy.

"This is a very sad day for us," he said. "He was part of the family."

Instructors assessed conditions at the start of the day and several times throughout the day to ensure safety, Mr Bokay told Fairfax Media. Skydivers could land in 25 knot winds, but this afternoon it was only blowing at 12 knots, he said. If not for the freak gust, the accident would not have happened.

Police said they were called to Goulburn airport just before 1.50pm with reports two skydivers were injured.

They believe the pair suddenly fell to the ground from around 20 metres in the air.

It is the second serious injury at the airport after a man in his thirties suffered a broken pelvis and spine in February 2014 when he "landed awkwardly" onto a bank of soil after a skydive.

Mr. Bokay said the company have conducted training on their safety standards.

Investigations are continuing into how the accident happened.

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