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Skydivers win $600,000 for crash

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A SKYDIVING school has been ordered to pay two of its students more than $600,000 in damages after they collided during a jump. Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd was found to have breached its duty of care and ordered to pay damages for injuries and loss of work suffered by the men.

The NSW District Court heard that Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was making his first jump and Michael Richard Warren, 26, his third when the collision occurred on December 14, 1997.

They had both attended a training day before they jumped out of the plane near Picton, south-west of Sydney.

The instructors were the first to reach the target area, marked by a large cross.

They were then to direct the movements of their students using large arrows and batons.

When Mr Morton and Mr Warren were about 30 metres above the ground and had their parachutes open, they collided and fell to the ground "with considerable force", Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland said today.

He blamed the collision on one of the instructors, Helen Perry, saying her sense of direction was confused when she landed just 90 seconds before the students.

She therefore pointed her student, Mr Morton, in the wrong direction, Justice Boyd-Boland said.

"I find it was the conduct of Perry and the confusion she had, surrounding the direction she was giving, which led to the collision," he said.

He rejected a suggestion that Mr Morton had failed to follow the direction indicated by Ms Perry's arrow.

The collision could also have been avoided if the two students had more than a 20 second interval between them when they jumped out of the plane, Justice Boyd-Boland said.

Despite the 20 second gap, both students were at the same height when the collision occurred.

"It became an added risk in an already risky procedure and would be best avoided," Justice Boyd-Boland said.

Mr Morton suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock in the fall and was today awarded almost $277,000 in damages.

Mr Warren received fractures to this right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock, and was awarded about $328,000.

~ From AAP



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