This past September, an experienced skydiving instructor, Brett Bickford, was embarking on a tandem jump with a student. Forty-one-year-old Bickford had 10 years of experience under his belt as a skydiving instructor, having made countless jumps before. No one expected this particular jump to be any different. However, while in mid-air, Bickford became separated from the other diver and ended up falling to his death. According to People, police don’t believe his death was an accident. After a two-month-long investigation, it was determined that Bickford intentionally loosened his safety harness to cause his own death.
At first, no one could understand how what was a typical jump for Bickford turned deadly so fast. Skydiving experts that knew Bickford claimed that it was simply impossible for someone with as much as experience and knowledge of proper safety protocol as he had to make such a critical mistake. It is typical for tandem jumps to be done with both the instructor and the student wearing separate harnesses while the instructor mans the parachute ensuring the land goes as planned. However, in this case, it appears that Bickford attached the parachute to his student. This allowed the student the ability to land safely while Bickford himself would free fall. Although the student who dove with Bickford has not been named, he did manage to land without issue and is unharmed.
— Scallywagandvagabond (@ScallywagNYC) November 28, 2018
The State Medical Examiner’s Office has officially ruled Bickford’s death a suicide. “Bickford, an instructor at Skydive New England, was jumping with a second man at the time. Investigators concluded that Bickford loosened his harness in midair and it was an intentional act,” police said in a public statement.
Meanwhile, Bickford’s family is mourning their loved one who was lost far too soon. October 26 would have been the skydiver’s 42nd birthday. His brother, Jason Bickford, spoke out on Facebook to describe the unique person Brett was and his inspiring fearless nature.
“I’m thankful for being able to grow up with him and to have such an amazing person to look up to and just watch how he lived life. He amazed me at everything he did and was always great at anything he felt was worth his time.”
Jason went on to say that the tragic choice his brother made was not what anyone in his life wanted or expected. He says that though Brett is no longer physically in his life, he will be missed and loved forever.