A terrible skydiving accident in southern Mississippi left a skydiving instructor dead and his student critically injured. The accident, which happened Saturday morning, resulted in the two men crash landing in the woods in rural Lumberton, MS.
According to a statement from authorities in Lamar County, the 56-year-old instructor, James Horak, died after setting off with a group of divers from the Lumberton airport Saturday morning. Horak was doing a tandem dive with another student, a person whose name and age have not yet been released.
According to police, other experienced divers noticed right away that something was wrong with Horak’s parachute. According to witnesses, it appeared that the cords used to control the parachute were tangled, something that can prevent even veteran divers from controlling their descent. The FAA has already announced that it is sending agents to Mississippi to conduct an investigation into the accident and determine exactly what went wrong.
According to Horak’s employer, Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Elberta, Alabama, Horak was incredibly experienced. The company’s website says that Horak is their most experienced instructor, with more than 4,000 skydives under his belt. Police say that experience was no match for the tangled cords and it’s a miracle that the student diving with Horak was able to survive the fall. Police say the student suffered severely broken and fractured bones as well as a major head injury.
Members of the U.S. Parachute Association reported 915 injuries and 19 deaths out of 3.1 million jumps in 2012. This breaks down to a fatality rate of 0.006 per 1,000 jumps. If you make one jump in a year, your chance of dying is around 1 in 100,000.
How does the fatality rate in skydiving stack up against other common activities like driving a car? Roughly 40,000 people die each year in traffic accidents in the United States. That comes out to 1.7 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles. Therefore, if you drive 10,000 miles per year, your chance of dying in a car wreck in any given year is something like 1 in 6,000. This means you would have to jump 17 times per year for your risk of dying in a skydiving accident to equal your risk of dying in a car accident if you drive only 10,000 miles per year.
Though everyone understands that skydiving involves inherent risks, most skydiving accidents result from human error. Analysis of skydiving accidents show that most are caused by jumpers who make mistakes of procedure or judgment. Contrary to popular belief, very few skydiving accidents or injuries are caused by random or unexpected equipment failure. Investigators with the FAA are working hard to uncover exactly the source of the trouble in this case and to determine who might have been responsible for the deadly crash.
Source: “Skydiving instructor killed, student hurt in Mississippi accident,” by Jonathan Kaminsky, published at Yahoo.com.
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