Aug 24, 2001, 11:42 PM
Post #1 of 3
Death in Hollister
Sorry to break the news... Last Saturday a skydiver went in. Andrei, a programmer from Russia, married. He was making a tracking jump with his friend. That was a long spot. His friend made a decision to land in a safe place near the freeway. Andrei tried to make it back to the dz. He didn't make it , and hit a very steep hill. He died in hospital. BSBD !
Sad news. I knew him personally, we were jumping together last summer in Hollister and Monterey Bay. It is still hard to believe for me that this happened. He was a very nice guy, friendly and cheerful. I will miss him ...
There were a lot of posts on this issue, but it happens too often. It sucks when it happens, especially with your friends. OK, lets try to learn something from this accident. I'm sure everybody (including me) has (or will have) something like that happened to them sometime in their skydiving career. What I mean here is a very familiar scenario: long spot, something more than a student main canopy in the container (which has a very good flare, but also fast forward speed to provide that flare, and in addition pretty responsive turns), trying to make it back to DZ instead of starting to look for alternatives not too late (sometimes there is no much choice of alternatives though), not able to make it back but still trying -> low turn at the very last moment to face the wind, and (usually) very hard landing in the turn. If you haven't run out of luck yet (Andrei has) and your canopy is forgiving enough it is going to be just veeery memorable landing, otherwise hospital if you r lucky again. Well from my point of view, the best that can be done in a situation like this is to start looking for the alternative landing areas up high when you still have some time left to make a decision and (hopefully) some options where to land. Because if you choose to make it back and it turns out to be impossible, then you will not have a chance to pick out the place to land (your luck will). It might be a house, a barn, forest, somebody's back yard, barbed wire fence, steep hill, highway, power lines, or whatever else.
I wonder also how in a hell people who have rather heavy loaded (> 1.2 : 1), let say 9-cell canopies are going to land them in such an emergency situations in congested or restricted alternative landing areas should such a need arise?
If you have any opinions on this subject matter, please share them with us! Also it might be helpful to know what main was Andrei jumping?
My condolences to all Andrei's relatives and friends.
(This post was edited by ftaba1 on Aug 25, 2001, 3:49 AM)
Date Location Category Age # Jumps AAD?/RSL? 8/18/01 Hollister, CA LAND 30 ~80 Yes / Yes
Description: After opening far from the DZ, this jumper attempted to make it back to the primary landing area, but was unable to do so. He had to find a place to land in a bad area with steep hills and obstacles. He turned low over a hilltop, avoided a house and downwind/downhill landing, but hit a steep hillside at full speed. He was found quite soon, without a pulse and was given CPR. He passed away shortly after due to massive head trauma. The person he jumped with turned around at 1200' and made it to an open area to land.
Lessons: Once under canopy, it's essential to select a good landing area if the primary target isn't reachable. It is far better to land out and safe, than to try to make the DZ and be forced into a tough landing situation. One report indicates he was known to "stick to plan A" in climbing situations, even when signs may have been pointing otherwise. It is important to have the right amount of flexibility in your plans, particularly when sticking to them increases your chance of injury for a small reward. Lack of experience is also a clear contributor to this event; off-DZ landings are much more stressful as a new jumper.
This is the report from Barry Brummit's Skydiving Faltalities page. This really underscores the need to divert to an alternate if you think there is any chance you won't make it back. Nobody will ever fault you for choosing a good safe alternate landing area. It happens to all of us, and a good canopy pilot will know when it's time to go to an alternate area. The sooner you make this decision, the greater the possibilities! It looks like this jumper made this decision too late and he was left with no good options. You may get a little teasing for landing out, but that's all it is! Please, remember the second golden rule of skydiving...land safe not close!!! Blue Skies!!