A U.S. Navy SEAL, a member of an elite parachute team called the Leap Frogs, fell to his death in the Hudson River on Sunday after his parachute failed to deploy while performing in an aerial exhibition that was part of the New York Habor's annual Fleet Week.
The Leap Frogs are a special Navy SEALs commando unit under the Naval Special Warfare Command.
The incident happened shortly after noon and was witnessed by thousands of shocked spectators who stood watching from the Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, according to NJ.com. A witness said he saw the SEAL skydiver splash into the water near Jersey City's Liberty State Park.
U.S. Coast Guard and Jersey City Fire Department marine unit personnel rushed to the scene to pull the SEAL from Morris Canal near the mouth of the Hudson River, according to the Daily Mail.
Rear Admiral Jack Scorby told reporters at a news conference held outside the Jersey City Medical Center that doctors pronounced the skydiver dead at about 1:10 p.m., the New York Daily News reported.
"The Navy SEAL's parachute failed to open properly, and he landed in the water adjacent to Liberty State Park," Rear Admiral Scorby said. "He was retrieved immediately by U.S. Coast Guard and the Jersey City Fire Department marine unit."NJ.com reported that a freelance photographer who watched the parachutist fall from the sky observed that when he realized that his parachute had failed to deploy, he cut himself loose from it and landed in the waters of the New York Habor, near Jersey City's Liberty State Park.
Amateur video shot by Aaron Moss captured the moment that a piece of the SEAL's parachute came down in a parking lot near a residential area in Jersey City after the parachutist separated from it mid-air.Police investigators later arrived at the scene to take photographs as part of their investigation of the incident. Navy personnel arrived later and took the parachute away. The SEAL skydiver's identity was reportedly being withheld until his family was notified.
Military officials declined to give details about the accident. The only explanation that Admiral Scorby gave during the news conference held outside the Jersey City Medical Center was that the SEAL skydiver's parachute failed to open as expected.The Navy SEAL died while participating as a member of the Leap Frogs in the annual week-long Fleet Week celebrations that involved U.S. warships and thousands of military members performing military drills and maneuvers in the New York City area.
Bjoern Kils, a resident of Jersey City who runs a charter boat, said he watched the event from a boat and saw three Leap Frog parachutists jumping from a helicopter. The parachutists completed the demonstration safely, touching down in the Liberty State Park. But as he watched from his boat with other passengers, they heard a splash and turned around quickly to look. They realized immediately that a fourth parachutist and fallen into his water
"Almost the same time that they touched down in Liberty State Park, we heard a splash and turned around very quick," he said. "I saw the water splash, and apparently there was a fourth parachutist."
"We're not sure where he came from. We didn't see him exit the same helicopter and apparently the chute did not deploy."Emergency responders arrived at the spot minutes later and pulled a limp body out of the water.
"They pulled him out of the water and started doing chest compressions. He was just limp."
The incident shocked the SEAL's colleagues and cast a pall over the Fleet Week celebrations.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, and I ask for all of your prayers for the Navy SEAL community who lost a true patriot today," Scorby said. "The chute's failure to open is under investigation."
[Featured Image by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images]