Skydiver dies in midair collision in Acampo

SACRAMENTO - A skydiver killed during a jump at a parachute center in Acampo Tuesday afternoon was not using an important piece of safety gear, a veteran skydiver said.

San Joaquin County sheriff's Deputy Les Garcia said two male parachutists collided. One of them died; the surviving parachutist suffered leg injuries.

Veteran skydiver Dick Smith said the pair hit each other just as the jump was starting. He was at the skydiving center when the accident happened.

"They had collided into each other, one guy getting knocked unconscious, not being able to do any kind of emergency procedures. And didn't have the safety devices recommended for those types of situations," Smith said.

Smith said the victim reportedly had his parachute and a reserve chute, but did not have an Automatic Activation Device that would deploy the reserve chute at a set altitude and speed if the diver has not done it himself.

"In case of a situation like that, it automatically fires out the reserve. He didn't have that safety device in his gear so unfortunately, that's the result," Smith said.

Other jumpers were stunned the victim was not wearing an AAD.

"It can save your life. I mean, had he had an AAD, from what I've heard, he could still be alive," said skydiver Hunter Armstrong of Idaho.

Garcia said the sheriff's office received the emergency call at around 1:30 p.m. The accident was at the Parachute Center, 23597 N. Highway 99 in Acampo.

The victim landed in a field northeast of the jump center.

The pair were doing what is called a tracking dive, in which a special jump suit partly fills with air, allowing the jumper to move horizontally at speeds up to 100 miles an hour as they fall.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.


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