A 36-year-old experienced skydiver died after his parachute collided with another competitor’s and became entangled at a national championship event east of Perth, with the organisers labelling it a freak accident.
Rob Libeau, from the Australian Parachute Federation, said the jump was not particularly challenging for the Victorian man, who had done more than 500 skydives, and was at a normal, safe height.
Mr Libeau said the “freak accident” at the Australian Skydiving Championships near York on Thursday unfolded after the four-person team completed their formation body positions.
“They obviously did not have time to separate from each other for some unknown reason and unfortunately they collided and that collision caused the entanglement,” he told AAP.
“When they’ve pitched their canopies, something has gone awry at that point.”
Mr Libeau said it was extremely fortunate the other man who became entangled landed normally and was not hurt.
“They had a reserve parachute – he had to jettison his main parachute because it was entangled.”
It’s not yet clear whether the deceased man tried to use his reserve parachute.
A videographer also took part in the jump.
The organisation is assisting police and the coroner with the investigation into what happened, and authorities are now advising the man’s parents in Poland.
All of the competitors unanimously voted last night to go ahead with the event out of respect for the man, but a media opportunity planned for Friday has been cancelled out of respect for his family and friends.
The event is expected to conclude on Saturday but may continue into Sunday.
“It’s as safe as it can possibly be, with the advancements in technology and that sort of thing … we know the risks and unfortunately, sometimes accidents do happen, but fortunately they are rare,” Mr Libeau said.