Ray Township, MI — A skydiver was killed in a fall on Saturday evening while he was performing a low-flying stunt. The man, Kenneth Ryan Bernek, was an expert skydiver.
The accident happened in Michigan during a series of scheduled dives by the Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club in Ray Township.
The skydiving club’s manager, Randy Allison, spoke with The New York Daily News about the accident, explaining that the plane carrying Bernek took off at 6:10 pm and went up to 14,000 feet, where standard jumps were made.
However, Bernek hopped off at 5,000 feet, to work on a dangerous technique often referred to as swooping. In the stunt, the skydiver flies close to the ground at a high speed for a long distance before finally landing.
Bernek made about 1,800 dives over the past 15 years and began jumping at Midwest Freefall in 2002. He already had his own equipment, so he only paid for the trip up in the plane. He eventually became the club’s videographer and taught tandem and solo flights.
Despite his experience, the skydiver was killed. Allison explained, “The dive that he executed was a little too low and as a result he impacted the ground prematurely.” The Macomb Daily notes that Bernek struck a tree and a pedestrian before colliding with the ground.
The pedestrian, a 53-year-old woman, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. She was expected to be released soon. EMS crews responded to the scene and performed CPR on Bernek before they rushed him to the hospital, where he passed away.
Allison added of the skydiver killed in a fall over the weekend, “Ken is a very good friend of mine… was. It’s kind of hard to say that. He was a mentor to a lot of people here and a guy that always had a smile on his face — this saddened us greatly.” He added that Midwest Freefall has no other serious injuries in its history.
[Image via Twitter]