OVID -- A Syracuse man plunged to his death Sunday morning when he was skydiving from Ovid Airport and he hit the ground too fast, despite his parachute opening normally.
Thomas D. Colaneri, 36, was pronounced dead at Geneva General Hospital from injuries he suffered when he struck the ground shortly after 8 a.m. Witness reports say the chute deployed normally, but that he appeared to be going too fast upon landing, according to the Seneca County Sheriff's Department.
The Sheriff's Department has called in the Federal Aviation Administration to assist with the investigation into the exact cause of Sunday's accident.
Colaneri, who was well known among local skydivers, had done more than 1,000 jumps over the past six years, said John King, owner of Finger Lakes Skydivers, where Colaneri was jumping.
"With skydiving in a small community, we all know each other," King said. "He was a friend."
King said he didn't witness Colaneri's fall and declined to speculate on the cause of his accident. However, he reported that witnesses on the ground who knew the mechanisms of skydiving said it looked Colaneri, who was using his own equipment, didn't level out the parachute to slow it before landing, a process called "flaring."
"The parachute has two steering toggles attached and enables you to turn the parachute to flare it," King said. "It was apparent to people who saw him land that the flare wasn't done correctly."
King, who has owned the Finger Lakes Skydivers for 21 years, said he can't remember an incident like this in the past.
"If the Sheriff or the FAA has further questions, we'll assist them," he said. "We'll cooperate with both of them."
I was hoping that I'd never have to do this again, but ...... Tommy was flying a demo velocity 96, a parachute well within his capabilities, he initiated a good turn but was not set up over the grass, instead he was flying towards the driveway. I witnessed his landing and that fact may have distracted him for a fatal, split second. He started to plane out the canopy just too late and impacted the drive way with incredible force. Tommy hung in for a while but his body was incredibly traumatized. CPR was initiated at the site, and taken over by EMT personnel who did an excellent job, but it was a lost cause. I was holding Tommy when he died, and it is my opinion that he left quickly and peacefully. I would like to thank all those that have offered their condolences, I was asked many questions by a member of the Sherrif's dept. and one of those was "Could I describe what kind of a person Tommy is", all I could think of (and I hope he wrote this down) was "He's one fine fucking human being"
Ron, Tommy normally flew a Crossfire 109, but had experience on Velocity 103's and a Crossfire 99. He respected equipment and it's inherent dangers. He was not a reckless canopy pilot and at a weight of around 160 lbs, this canopy was within his range.
I did not mean to imply that my watching Tommy distracted him, but that as he executed his turn he saw that he was lined up on the driveway, THAT fact MAY have distracted him for a split second. causing him to be too late on his flare, but I emphasise this is speculation on my part. Everything happened very quickly.
Without a doubt, the grass would have made no difference,
(September 15, 2003) — OVID — A Syracuse skydiver died following a parachuting accident Sunday morning in Seneca County.
Thomas D. Colaneri, 36, was pronounced dead at Ontario County’s Geneva General Hospital. The parachuting accident happened around 8 a.m. at Ovid Airport.
The Federal Aviation Administration is assisting the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department with the investigation into the cause of the death.
Colaneri’s mother, Lou Ann Colaneri of Syracuse, said she was told her son apparently got tangled up in his own parachute lines as he fell.
Colaneri worked as an arborist for a Syracuse landscaper. He had been skydiving for five or six years and had completed his 1,000th jump in August, his mother said. “ He just was interested in that sort of thing, tried it, loved it and pursued it,” she said.
He jumped at Finger Lakes Skydivers, based at Ovid Airport, on a regular basis, said airport owner John H. King.
King described Colaneri as a good friend. “ The skydiving community is very small. Everybody knows everybody else.”
Colaneri was among four skydivers who were up over Ovid Airport at the time, though all four were diving individually, King said.
“ He was very safety-conscious, very careful,” Colaneri’s mother said. “ It’s just one of those things.”
According to the United States Parachute Association, the number of people killed in the past decade in skydiving accidents ranges from 27 in 1992 to 44 in 1998. Skydiving accidents claimed 33 lives in 2002, according to the association. Meanwhile, 1,275 association members reported having accidents that required medical attention in 2002.
“ Considering what you’re doing, it’s relatively safe,” King said. “ I’d never say it was safe to skydive. It’s like any other adventure sport; there’s risk involved.”
Why would Tommy's mother be told "her son apparently got tangled up in his own parachute lines as he fell." when we have a witness which said "he started to plane out the canopy just too late and impacted the drive way with incredible force."? This sounds like a swoop gone bad (which just goes to prove that swooping is dangerous no matter who is at the controls). Yet the press is reporting that he got tangled up in his lines?
(This post was edited by CanuckInUSA on Sep 15, 2003, 2:24 PM)
OVID -- Witnesses who watched a man fall to his death while skydiving Sunday morning from Ovid Airport reported that he probably misjudged the speed of his descent, according to Sheriff's officials.
"It looks accidental at this point," said Douglas Dickenson, a deputy in the Seneca County Sheriff's Department who's assigned to the investigation.
Thomas D. Colaneri, 36, of Syracuse, died Sunday morning after a skydiving jump he made at Ovid Airport. His parachute opened normally, but he struck the ground too fast and was transported to Geneva General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
So far, all witness reports corroborate each other, including two from experienced skydiving instructors, Dickenson said.
"It was the way he came down and it was a misjudgment on his part," Dickenson said.
An autopsy report into the exact cause of Colaneri's death is still pending, and the Seneca County Sheriff's Department is continuing the investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration's Rochester branch is also involved in the investigation, but officials there couldn't be reached for comment Monday.
According to Dickenson, Colaneri was going 50-60 mph when he hit the ground. He was using a parachute for more advanced divers that allows for high-speed maneuvers and requires a "running landing."
"He hit feet and knees first, in the fetal position, and he hit the ground and tumbled forward," Dickenson said.
My condolences to Tom's family and friends, and everyone at Finger Lakes Skydivers. A special Thank you to Peter (manifest/packing) whom I here reacted quickly and did everything humanly possible to help Tom.
Does anyone know if he was wearing any type of helmet? Did he sustain major damage to his head? Any thoughts on whether or not this would have prevented this accident from being so tragic?
Helmet? At so speeding is useless!! I don't speculate to this unfortunate accident. I would say we need act with consciousness. The ground doesn't forgive. Sorry for my vent. I lost more friends like this.
It is repeated that he flared too late or not at all...What is the difference between this and turning too low to the ground? Did he misjudge his final turn? Was he going too fast to be able to "dig" out of the corner?