Forums: Skydiving: Incidents:
Fatality at Cal City - 04 July 2005

 


Scrumpot  (D License)

Jul 6, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Fatality at Cal City - 04 July 2005 Can't Post

From Press Clips just picked up in my auto news profile Unsure :

Quote:
Chute to blame in death of skydiver

Source:
http://www.bakersfield.com/local/story/5584439p-5556679c.html

A reportedly experienced jumper from San Dimas had trouble at 2,300 feet

The Bakersfield Californian

Posted: Tuesday July 5th, 2005, 11:05 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday July 5th, 2005, 11:24 PM

A skydiver was killed when his parachute failed to open all the way in
California City on Monday, according to a release from the Kern County
coroner's office.

Stephen Nelson Rathbun, 59, who was described as an experienced skydiver,
jumped from about 13,000 feet. At 2,300 feet, Rathbun attempted to open his
chute, but about half of it collapsed.

California City Fire Department Capt. Marcus Martinov said Rathbun landed
fairly close to the landing zone of a jump school in the area.

Coroner's officials listed Skydive California City as the company Rathbun
was near. A representative from Skydive California City said the company had
no comment.

Rathbun was from San Dimas.

Martinov said his department regularly responds to skydiving accidents and
mishaps, though he didn't remember the last time someone died while skydiving.

"(It happens) more often than you'd think, but I don't want to say they
happen all the time," Martinov said. "Just like anything else, we go out for
bumps and breaks and hard landings."

SUCKS! Frown

My most deepest of heartfelt condolences go out to all my FAMILY out there at Cal City. I hate public press "info" on these things, which only raises unfortunately though, even further questions.

1. "Chute to blame"? "Chute didn't open fully"?? Crazy
I HATE those statements! ...So anybody with any further info, would be greatly appreciated.

2. No cut-away? How about reserve deployment? Landing details??
Again, any further FACTUAL details would be appreciated.

This past weekend it seems, has just plain SUCKED!! Unsure
Somebody tell me that this story is somehow (miraculously) just entirely false. -PLEASE! ...I don't mind being found to be completely mistaken in this regard.

Again, BSBD to all my brothers and sisters out there affected by yet (apparently) ANOTHER tragic fatality from just this past weekend. Frown

-Grant


(This post was edited by Tonto on Jul 10, 2005, 11:52 PM)


rapter  (D 11825)

Jul 6, 2005, 1:24 PM
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Re: [Scrumpot] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

he was seen limp in the harness all the way to the ground.


Premier SkymonkeyONE  (D 12501)

Jul 6, 2005, 1:33 PM
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Re: [rapter] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sounds like you might have some more insight. Any idea as to the deceased's jump numbers, equipment jumped, etc?

Chuck


Andy9o8  (D License)

Jul 6, 2005, 3:26 PM
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Re: [Scrumpot] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
1. "Chute to blame"? "Chute didn't open fully"?? Crazy I HATE those statements! ...So anybody with any further info, would be greatly appreciated.

Not to hijack the thread, but I am so disgusted at how the whuffo press always seems to mis-report incidents this way.

To our brother jumper: Blue skies forever.


VoodooFreeFly  (D License)

Jul 6, 2005, 3:59 PM
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Re: [Andy9o8] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

I was there in the sky with him when this happened and saw him from 1000ft until impact. I am not going to speculate on anything. However, I am not affiliated with the FAA, so their report is the word, not mine.

He was NOT limp in the harness.

He was jumping a new Spectre in a Racer container. He was a current jumper with apporx 400 jumps.

I dont know the cause of the malfunction, but he had three broken suspension lines. He was seen with one arm up on one of his risers while looking around (this is DIRECTLY from the RN that was in his formation that administered CPR on the ground). No handles were pulled at all. Yes, there was a Cypres. I personally dont know if it was on, but knowing "Doc", it probably was. He was not falling fast enough for it to activate.

Bottom line--When you dont have a good canopy over your head, get rid of it.

My thoughts and prayers go out to "Doc" and his family.

Blue Skies "Doc".


(This post was edited by VoodooFreeFly on Jul 6, 2005, 4:06 PM)


tdog  (D 28800)

Jul 6, 2005, 4:50 PM
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Re: [VoodooFreeFly] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your post... Sorry for your loss..

Question. Ok, so he had broken suspension lines... How did that translate into the end result of a hard enough landing to cause a fatality... In other words, was the canopy flying straight but no control, spiral, ball of fabric, etc??? How far from "normal" was the canopy flying, did he think it was landable but turned out not to be?


VoodooFreeFly  (D License)

Jul 6, 2005, 5:14 PM
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The three broken lines equated to a slow spiral (from what I saw). The canopy was in no way controlable for a safe landing. Like I said before, I am not the Authority, but from what I saw, it looked like a line over, but I could not see the broken lines from where I was in the sky with him.


hookncrater

Jul 7, 2005, 7:28 AM
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Re: [VoodooFreeFly] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have seen more than a few broken line malfunctions and from a distance they can be mistaken for a lineover due to the deformation of the canopy while it's still in flight. Not saying this was the case here, but just something I have witnessed in the past.

I think Sparky's comments from another thread can possibly apply here, "Do not attempt mid-air rigging." Broken lines = instant chop in my book, no ifs, ands, or buts. That is, if that was actually the case here.

BSBD


Dougiefresh  (Student)

Jul 7, 2005, 12:18 PM
Post #9 of 23 (8281 views)
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Re: [VoodooFreeFly] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
He was seen with one arm up on one of his risers while looking around (this is DIRECTLY from the RN that was in his formation that administered CPR on the ground).

Was his arm ON the risers, or was it tangled IN the risers/broken lines? The reason I ask is, if he was tangled, it could help explain why he didn't do his EPs.


ixlr82  (C 33491)

Jul 7, 2005, 7:10 PM
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Re: [hookncrater] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Broken lines = instant chop in my book, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Not for me. If the canopy has broken lines and passes a controllability check, I'm keeping it.


mjosparky  (D 5476)

Jul 7, 2005, 9:18 PM
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Re: [ixlr82] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
Broken lines = instant chop in my book, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Not for me. If the canopy has broken lines and passes a controllability check, I'm keeping it.

When a ram-air canopy goes bad it will only get worse, not better. If the load forces were high enough to break lines how can you be sure there is not damage to the canopy that is slowly getting worse? It may pass the controllability check at 2,000 feet and fail it at 500 feet. Just something to think about.

Sparky


marks  (D 22296)

Jul 7, 2005, 9:35 PM
Post #12 of 23 (7935 views)
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Re: [mjosparky] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
Quote:
Broken lines = instant chop in my book, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Not for me. If the canopy has broken lines and passes a controllability check, I'm keeping it.

When a ram-air canopy goes bad it will only get worse, not better. If the load forces were high enough to break lines how can you be sure there is not damage to the canopy that is slowly getting worse? It may pass the controllability check at 2,000 feet and fail it at 500 feet. Just something to think about.

Sparky

you really have to think about WHY there is BROKEN lines,. MORE. than one... there was something wrong... there was 3 broken lines.... of course there was something wrong.


calidiver  (D 25191)

Jul 8, 2005, 1:57 AM
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My home DZ is California City and I wasnt there that day. It's very upsetting to hear about a member of my DZ losing their life. My prayers go out to him and his family. Blue Skies Doc -Jake Angeles


Brumby  (C 104799)

Jul 8, 2005, 4:34 AM
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Re: [ixlr82] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a mal where 3 of the suspension lines were broke. I didnt wait to find out if it was controlable or not. The way i seen it was it may have been controlable then at 3000ft but come 500ft it may not have been so i got rid.

Condolences to all who knew him.


ZigZagMarquis

Jul 8, 2005, 6:41 AM
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Et All, I held off a few days posting this, not sure why, but decided to, here it is... this makes 3 I've witnessed in my time in the sport, it doesn't make it any easier though...

----------------

I was on the jump with Steve (a.k.a. Doc) and watched him go in... it was an 8-way... went something like this these are my words and observations as related to the Police Investigator and Coroner, please take them as such:

After a "normal" skydive, we broke off at 4500', everyone tracked off and pulled. After getting under my main, I collapsed my slider, un-stowed my brakes and noticed over my right shoulder Doc under what I would call a violently spinning malfunctioning main canopy, one half of the canopy was collapsed. At first it appeared to me that Doc was attempting his emergency procedures, but after several more revolutions it then appeared to me that he was not taking any actions. Docs canopy continued to spin out of control until impact with the ground. I spiraled down and landed about 30 yards from where he hit, I was like third on the scene behind a couple of other jumpers that piled into the DZ truck and hauled ass out there actually beating me to the scene. One of them that came out in the DZ truck was also a doctor and he started assessing the situation. Right after I landed, another jumper that was on the same skydive also landed there and she's a nurse.

As the doctor and nurse worked the situation and I and others assisted, my observation was that Steve (Doc) wasn't breathing, bad head wound on the side of his head, blood from both ears nose, mouth, his eyes were open and pupils fixed. I helped get him rolled over and his rig off enough so the other jumper / doctor and nurse could start CPR. Yes, I realize that one shouldnt move someone whos badly hurt for risk of further neck / spine injuries, but Doc wasnt in a position where CPR could be performed.

Looking at his gear without moving it further at that time, I noted at least 2 broken lines and tension knots.

They continued CPR on Doc until the ambulance crew arrived. They put him on a monitor and continued aid... that's about when I left the scene... evidently the ambulance crew assessed Doc's condition, the monitor told them what ever it is it tells them. I believe at that point they contacted their base and got permission to pronounce him dead on the scene. Another friend of mine who is a trauma nurse and works on a mercy flight out of Bakersfield explained to me that an ambulance crew can do that, but there are certain procedures they must follow. Frankly, when we log rolled Doc and got his rig off so they could do CPR, I believe he was dead then.

We spent a lot of time talking to the police and coroner giving reports and such.

Later, as part of the coroner's investigation, taking a closer look at his gear, one entire line group (the right front as I recall) were all broken. The supposition is he had a radically hard opening for some reason... poor packing, poor body position or maybe a combination of both, he was seen to be packing his own canopy earlier. He could have been knocked-out on opening or checked out as a result of the spin. No one really knows for sure if he ever tried to cut-away and deploy his reserve... the reserve handle was out of the pocket when we got to him, but its not untypical for that to get knocked loose on a bounce. If they perform an autopsy, we may learn other things like neck injuries or torn aorta, etc., but I don't know if they'll be able to determine if that happened as a result of a hard opening or impact.

I believe he died on impact as there was a fair amount of blood as you would expect with a head wound, but he was no longer bleeding out when we got to him. He was gone then is what I think.

He had a Pro-Track Dytter, which amongst other things, records what altitude your main canopy is deployed, it recorded that the victim had deployed his main at 2300'. I was in the saddle at 2 and by the time I saw him, he was level to just below me and spinning in, so the Pro-Track saying he opened at 2300 makes sense to me.

At this point, only Doc and God know 100% what really happened?


(This post was edited by ZigZagMarquis on Jul 8, 2005, 7:18 AM)


popeyefireman  (C 34010)

Jul 8, 2005, 10:47 AM
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Re: [ZigZagMarquis] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

Just FYI, in case anyone was wondering,it is very regular for Ambulance crew (me being a paramedic) to pronounce time of death after verifying a couple of things. It is very common for ER(emergency room) nurses to not really know what a paramedic can do. In many cases I am allowed to do more in the field then a nurse can in the hospital.

And let me just say one thing. It is perfictly okay to move someone after a traumatic injury if their airway needs to be opened and breathing needs to be preformed. When a person is lying on the ground with a reserve under their thoracic spine they will most likely not have a open and operable airway.

I highly suggest to anyone that is motivated to take some first aid training, to do so. If you live in the Eloy area and wish to have some basic training and CPR please contact me and I will get you started.

My condolannces to the Family and Friends that knew him.


likearock  (D 24640)

Jul 8, 2005, 4:51 PM
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Re: [ZigZagMarquis] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
After getting under my main, I collapsed my slider, un-stowed my brakes and noticed over my right shoulder Doc under what I would call a violently spinning malfunctioning main canopy, one half of the canopy was collapsed. At first it appeared to me that Doc was attempting his emergency procedures, but after several more revolutions it then appeared to me that he was not taking any actions. Docs canopy continued to spin out of control until impact with the ground.

It sounds like the centrifugal forces of the spin might have knocked him out before he could complete EP. Do you happen to know the wingloading on his Spectre?


ZigZagMarquis

Jul 8, 2005, 5:07 PM
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Re: [likearock] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Do you happen to know the wingloading on his Spectre?

Specifically, no I do not know his exact wingloading, but it wasn't a prarticularly small canopy, nor really really (student) big either... and I'd guess he was out the door about the same as me, something like 190lbs, so I'd say his wing loading was somewhere in the 1.0 to 1.2 region, no more, no less... again, just my guess, so take that with a grain of salt, please. I didn't note the size of the Spectre he was jumping... it was the first day he was jumping it... second jump on it.


ryoder  (D 6663)

Jul 8, 2005, 9:09 PM
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Re: [ZigZagMarquis] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Later, as part of the coroner's investigation, taking a closer look at his gear, one entire line group (the right front as I recall) were all broken.

What material were the lines?


skyflyer121  (C License)

Jul 9, 2005, 10:40 AM
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Re: [likearock] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

it was a spectre 190


ZigZagMarquis

Jul 10, 2005, 2:14 PM
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In reply to:
What material were the lines?

Spectra.


Anvilbrother  (C License)

Jul 30, 2005, 7:42 PM
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Re: [ZigZagMarquis] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

It has been a week or two, did anyone ever find out more about if/how the canopy and packing were involved in this incident?


Bigwallmaster

Aug 25, 2005, 10:57 AM
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Re: [ZigZagMarquis] Fatality at Cal City 7/4/2005? [In reply to] Can't Post

"Doc" was my childhood doctor and a family friend. From what I recall the last time I saw him he is not a very big man, so I presume his wingloading on a Spectre 190 was nothing extreme. . . .maybe 1.2 or lighter.

My condolences to his family and his colleagues at Pomona Valley.

Regards,

J.P.



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