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Colorado skydiving excursion turns into fatal accident

Patricia M. Jarzobski

When taking part in a skydiving exercise, one may have a reasonable expectation of safety. On April 1, a 35-year-old Colorado man was killed when he hit the ground after taking part in a tandem skydiving jump that turned fatal accident with his 28-year-old instructor. The instructor survived the impact but sustained critical injuries. The skydiving instructor was flown to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs where he was listed in critical condition.

The instructor and victim were strapped in tandem and hopped out of the plane at 8,000 feet over Fremont County Airport at approximately 9 a.m. While it is unclear exactly what transpired, something went deadly wrong at a deadly altitude when the primary and backup reserve parachute expanded simultaneously and become intertwined. The skydiving instructor had over 600 individual skydives under his belt and 50 tandem skydives. It was the deceased man's only skydive. The deceased Colorado man's family will likely want to obtain the accident report to determine the official cause of this fatal accident.

Similar reports typically document how a death occurred. In this instance, the cause for the parachutes becoming intertwined immediately before the fatal accident occurred will be of importance. While skydiving is inherently risky, Colorado law does allow surviving family of a deceased victim to pursue a wrongful death action in instances where the fatality occurred through the negligence of another.

Here, there may be issues concerning negligence on the part of the instructor or perhaps even with the equipment that was used for the dive. In the case of faulty equipment, both the fatal victim's family as well as the skydiver may have a legal basis for pursuing monetary damages suffered as a result of the tragedy.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, "Man killed in skydiving accident identified," Maria St. Louis-Sanchez, April 2, 2012

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