Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fatal accident occurred November 21, 2015 in Maricopa, Pinal County, Arizona

MARICOPA, AZ (KPHO/KTVK/AP) - A skydiving student was killed and an instructor was injured in a tandem jump Saturday in Arizona.

A malfunction or failure occurred, leading to a hard-impact landing during the jump Saturday morning at Skydive Phoenix in Maricopa.

After lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful, firefighters pronounced the 26-year-old female student dead. She has now been identified as Jeriann Henderson.

"It's just tragic to have a young woman, 26 years old," says Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "From what I understand this was her second jump, and it ends this way for her."

The instructor, 47-year-old Todd Dimauro, was hospitalized with two broken legs. He is expected to survive. Officials say he has done more than 5,000 jumps.

"He has over 5,000 jumps under his belt," says Babeu. "And so you have a lot of experience there. Yet this seems very unusual. In  tandem, with a student, usually every safety precaution is used. So, we haven't seen this happen in some time."

 Skydive Phoenix operates a drop zone for skydivers in Maricopa, about 34 miles south of Phoenix.

According to a post on the company's Facebook page, the female student was conducting her second jump for their Accelerated Skydiving Program and a main parachute did not deploy.

The statement says the reserve parachute turned into the ground.

Here's the full company statement:

"Skydive Phoenix had an accident today involving a tandem student conducting her second jump of the Accelerated Skydiving Program. Preliminary reports indicate that the main parachute was not deployed.. followed by proper procedures and deployment of the reserve parachute. The reserve parachute was open and flying properly.. But upon landing they encountered turbulence possibly a dust devil turning the parachute into the ground at the last second.

"The FAA USPA and local authorities have been notified.. and are conducting an independent investigation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to student, instructor and their families. Please respect our privacy and allow the investigation to take its course." 

The accident occurred northwest of Bowlin and Hidden Valley Roads, according to a tweet from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

"PCSO will conduct the death investigation in conjunction with the Pinal Medical Examiner," Clark said.  

The FAA will also conduct its own investigation to assure federal regulations were followed.

"What they'll look at is the equipment. And how it was properly packed," says Babeu. "Every indication we have at this point, it doesn't appear there's anything amiss at all."

Story and video:

MARICOPA, AZ - A student who was executing her second tandem jump at Skydive Phoenix died after her main parachute was not deployed and encountered turbulence.

A Pinal County Sheriff's Office representative said a 26-year-old woman was killed and her 40-year-old skydiving instructor suffered two broken legs Saturday morning during a tandem jump at Skydive Phoenix on West Dasher Drive in Maricopa.  

Authorities told ABC15 Jeriann Henderson was skydiving with her instructor, Tod Dimauro. Dimauro has completed 5,000 dives. 

Authorities said the skydive team hit the ground after their parachute did not open, and are calling it an accident. 

In a Facebook post, Skydive Phoenix said the student was in their "Accelerated Skydiving Program". Preliminary reports indicate that the woman's main parachute was not deployed, but the reserve parachute was after "proper procedures" were followed. 

The reserve parachute was open and "flying properly," the post said. 

However, when the pair landed they encountered turbulence, including the possibility of a dust devil, which turned the parachute into the ground in the very last moment. 

Sheriff Paul Babeu of Pinal County said the incident was "very rare, very unusual circumstance that we haven't seen really this happen in some time."

The business asks for privacy as the Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Parachute Association conduct independent investigations into the incident. 

Local authorities are also looking into the incident. 

Story and video:

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