August 7, 2016
Two Tandem Skydivers, Including First Time Skydiving Teen, Die In California After Parachute Failed To Deploy

A teenager celebrating the birthday of a friend is dead after he attempted to skydive for the first time with the Skydive Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo, California. The teen went out for his first skydive with an instructor for a tandem skydive. However, after the two jumped from the plane, the parachute failed to deploy. Two skydivers hit the ground and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Fox 40 reports that a group of friends were at the Acampo skydiving center to celebrate a birthday when an unidentified 18-year-old teen took his first skydiving jump with an instructor. The pair were tandem skydiving as is typically required for first time jumpers. However, for an unknown reason, the pair's parachute failed to deploy until after the skydivers hit the ground in a nearby vineyard.

According to KCRA, at around 10:00 am the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office was called after witnesses say a pair of skydivers hit the ground without a parachute. Responding officers found two deceased skydivers and indicated the the parachute deployed after the impact.
"Deputies responded out to the scene and came across a tandem jumping pair that did impact the ground without their shoot deploying."
Bill Dause, the owner of Skydive Lodi Parachute Center, says that though he is "always liable" he says he "isn't concerned" because "we didn't do anything wrong." Dause went on to say that he plans to "keep going" and that you just have to "feel sorry for the [the deceased] who can't participate [in skydiving] any longer."
"I am always liable but I am not concerned. We didn't do anything wrong. It's a love of the sport. You keep going. You feel sorry for the people who can't participate any longer."
Dause says he doesn't know what went wrong with the parachute but that it looked like "something went out of sequence" and caused the tragic deaths. He also revealed that the skydiving instructor was an independent contractor in his 20s and had over 700 jumps under his belt.
"The parachute failed to eject properly. We have no explanation why. The only thing it looks like is something may have gone out of sequence (and) that may have caused the problem."
The sheriff's office says that the department will be handling the coroner's investigation into the tandem skydiving deaths but that the FAA will be performing the investigation into what caused the fatal accident. The reports indicate that the deaths of the two California men are the 15th and 16th deaths at the Lodi drop zone since it opened in the 1980s with the previous fatality occurring in February of this year. Of the 16 deaths in the Lodi drop zone, the FAA says that two of them were ruled as suicides.Though there have been numerous deaths at the drop zone, Dause says it is simply due to the high traffic in the area. He notes that the Lodi drop zone is the busiest skydiving zone north of Los Angeles and that the sheer number of skydivers means that there will be accidents. Neighbors in the area agree noting that they feel the skydiving center is safe and that it is a "numbers game."
"It's a numbers game. If you went to Davis or one of these other jumpers I'm sure they have a lot less fatalities but they also have a lot less divers."
Following the deaths, Skydive Lodi Parachute Center continued to operate as normal. What do you think about the skydiving center's response to the death of the two skydivers?

[Image via Shutterstock]