Saturday, October 28, 2017

Skydive Pepperell: Fatal accident occurred October 28, 2017 in Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Rich Gately’s girlfriend catches a picture of him jumping out of the plane to skydive with his instructor. 

PEPPERELL, Mass. -- A 60-year-old experienced skydiver who filmed jumps for a skydiving company died after a parachute malfunction, CBS Boston reports.

The photographer, who authorities haven't identified, filmed Rich Gately's tandem jump for the Skydive Pepperell company on Saturday. Gately's first jump would be the man's last assignment.

"Everyone was quiet, the whole place was quiet, but you could tell that he was just such a nice guy, and I felt awful because he was videoing me," Gately told CBS Boston.

The pair spent a few hours together before the jump getting to know each other.

"He was so happy, and he just made us excited and comfortable," Gately said.

When they were in the air, the photographer "was across from me, and he's like almost reaching out, doing hand gestures, telling me to wave, and I'm just like 'yeah!'" Gately said.

After about 60 seconds of free-falling, Gately remembers pulling his chute and feeling like he came to a halt. The photographer kept going, which Gately thought was routine at first.

"In my peripheral, I could see spinning, but I couldn't see anything else," Gately said. "That's when I heard my instructor say, 'Oh no,' and you know something was wrong, so I start to freak out."

The photographer's main chute was tangled, and the second chute failed. He had 40 years of skydiving experience.

Gately will do his best to remember the man's contagious passion.

"In his honor," Gately said, "I would say that I would still go [skydiving], in his honor."

Story, comments and video:

A skydiver was killed in an accident in Pepperell, Massachusetts around 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The jump began like any other from a Twin Otter plane at the Pepperell Airport, but then investigators believe something went wrong with the 60-year-old's parachute.

"We have a main parachute and we have a reserve parachute," said David Goldstein, lead instructor at Skydive Pepperell. "And we all train in how to deploy a reserve if something happens to the main.” 

Skydive Pepperell, which operates the skydiving jumps, says the main parachute landed in a neighborhood nearby. The skydiver hit the ground on airport property, which tells experts that something went wrong with the first parachute, he disconnected from it, and was trying to use the reserve.

“Bad things happen and we do our best to prepare for emergency procedures and train often," said Stephen Hoff, an experienced skydiver who came to Pepperell to skydive Saturday only to be greeted by the tragic news.

"He was liked in this community," said Hoff, who knew the victim. "Just a fantastic person."

Saturday was the last day of the skydiving season at Pepperell Airport.

If a parachute does not fully function, a skydiver could hit the ground at up to 120 miles an hour.

Skydive Pepperell says the skydiver killed Saturday, whose identity has not been released, was highly experienced and worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company.

At the time of the accident, the man was taking video as instructors and students jumped from about 10,000 feet.

“He was working with the tandem students as a videographer," Goldstein said. "He was taking video of the students.”

The incident is under investigation by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office, the Pepperell Police department, Massachusetts State Police, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Foul play is not suspected at this point, according to the Middlesex DA.

The last time a fatal accident took place at Skydive Pepperell was in 2014.

Story and video  ➤

PEPPERELL, Mass. - On Saturday afternoon, at approximately 3:00 p.m., a skydiving incident in Pepperell left one person dead, according to police.

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Pepperell Chief of Police David Scott have confirmed the death of a 60-year-old male who was an experienced skydiver. 

"(He was a) very experienced jumper. he was well-liked in this community," said Stephen Hoff, a fellow skydiver. 

The man worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company. He was filming beginner skydivers and then jumped from the plane himself. 

"Very nice, very gentle, very respectful, professional, family man, yes," said David Goldstein, who works at Skydive Pepperell. 

The exact cause of the accident is unknown, however, preliminary investigation suggests he experienced a parachute malfunction. 

Boston 25 News reporter Jim Morelli learned the skydiver's main parachute deployed, but was released and landed in a nearby neighborhood. 

"We all have a main parachute and we have a reserve parachute, and we're all trained how to deploy a reserve if something happens to the main," Goldstein said. 

It wasn't made clear if the reserve parachute deployed or not. 

The fatal jump happened on the last weekend of Skydive Pepperell's operational season. 

The skydiving aircraft used by Skydive Pepperell is a Twin Otter which carries about two dozen skydivers. Jumpers descend from 10,000 to 13,000 feet. 

Statistically, skydiving appears to be quite safe. 

The U.S. Parachute Association estimates 3.2 million skydived nationally in 2016. Out of those numbers, only 21 died as a result of the jump. 

Still, this is the second fatal accident at the Pepperell facility in three years. 

In 2014, a Mattapan man's skydiving death was ruled as accidental. 

"You're out having a good time with people and you forget that part that you're falling to the ground, towards the ground at 120 miles per hour," said Hoff. "It's important for us not to get complacent." 

It is definitely a sport in which chaos and control are forced to co-exist, and having a healthy dose of fear, helps. 

It is also a very personal sport in which participants tend to know each other, and mourn each other's passings. 

Police do not suspect any indication of foul play. 

This is an open and ongoing investigation conducted by the Middlesex's DA's office, Pepperell Police, State Police and the Federal Aviation Administration. 

This week, Skydive Pepperell will close for the season. The aircraft that sometimes did up to twenty-five skydiving runs a day will head to Florida.

When the facility re-opens in the spring, skydivers are hoping they can learn something from this tragedy to make the sport even safer. 

Story and photo gallery ➤

PEPPERELL, Mass. (WHDH) — One person was killed while skydiving in Pepperell on Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened at the Skydive Pepperell facility on Nashua Road. Lead instructor David Goldstein told 7News the man killed was a veteran of “thousands of jumps” and worked for the facility as a videographer. His name has not been released.

Goldstein said the man’s primary parachute was found in an area away from his body, which means he possibly attempted or tried to attempt to use his reserve parachute. 

The incident is under investigation.

Goldstein said State Police and local police are investigating and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been notified. 

In a statement, the Middlesex County district attorney said preliminary investigations indicate the man’s parachute malfunctioned.

This is the second time in the last three years a skydiver was killed in Pepperell. A 37-year-old man from Mattapan was killed while skydiving back in 2014.

Goldstein said this was the last jump at the facility before it closed for the season.

Story and video  ➤

PEPPERELL, Mass. — A skydiver who works as an independent contractor filming jumps from airplanes was killed Saturday after what appeared to be a parachute malfunction, the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office said.

Pepperell Police responded to a report at the Skydive Pepperell on Nashua Road around 3 p.m.

When authorities arrived, they discovered the body of a 60-year-old man who authorities said was an experienced skydiver.

The District Attorney's Office said the victim worked as an independent contractor filming jumps with the skydiving company.

The preliminary investigation suggests that the decedent experienced a parachute malfunction.

The District Attorney's Office said no foul play was suspected.

Story and photo gallery ➤

A skydiver who was filming other people making their jumps was killed when his parachute apparently malfunctioned Saturday afternoon in Pepperell, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said.

Local police responded at about 3 p.m. to Skydive Pepperell on Nashua Road, where they found the body of a 60-year-0ld deceased man, prosecutors said in a statement.

The man, who was not identified, was described as an “experienced skydiver,” and an independent contractor who was “filming jumps with the skydiving company,” the statement said.

The preliminary investigation indicates the man “experienced a parachute malfunction,” prosecutors said.

Original article can be found here ➤

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