Gerardo Flores had trained for two years at the Skydive Monterey Bay School in California before taking his GoPro camera on his 30th jump — against regulation. CBS San Francisco reports that the camera rolled as his parachute opened too early, whipped and snapped, and Flores lost consciousness. It caught his crash landing and the arrival of emergency medics. Flores was unconscious for two weeks, suffering broken ribs and a lacerated tongue.
The FAA investigates skydiving accidents, and filed a report that found a “critical” velcro closing flap on the parachute casing was “completely worn.” Suspension lines were broken and the rigging was knotted. The report found that “these lines should have been replaced prior to allowing this parachute to be placed in service.”
But a statement issued from Jackie Behrick, USPA Safety & Training Adviser at Skydive Monterey Bay, says it was a case of jumper error, and that Flores should not have had a camera "distracting" him as he was too inexperienced a diver. She notes she has "clocked" over 8700 jumps. From her statement:
“I haven’t been provided the FAA report but was in communication with the FAA Rep assigned to report the incident. Prior to Gerardo’s jump, the gear was certainly in proper working order...
In summary, improper use by the jumper caused a minor incident of pre-deployment of his main parachute, to which he again responded incorrectly. New jumpers must appreciate the true distractive nature of an extra piece of equipment (i.e.camera). He never executed positive control of his descent. This would be like texting while driving … at terminal velocity. He did not have his “eyes-on-the-road” sort of speak. His experience has not been taken lightly by myself or my peers. Jumper’s ability to disregard instructors and flight crews at ours or any facility is disheartening, let alone scary. We are glad he is doing well. We wish he and his family well. It’s too bad jumpers feel like they need to take chances in an extreme sport that is thrilling in its own respects. Skydiving: no extra risks necessary."