Skydiver collision kills two

Keiron O'Rourke and Bernd Schmehl were killed after they collided midair, collapsing their parachutes and falling 200 feet to the ground.

By Gabrielle Levy

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Two skydivers were killed Tuesday in Arizona after they collided midair, falling more than 200 feet to the ground.

Keiron O'Rourke, 40, and Bernd Schmehl, 51, were both veteran jumpers logging more than 800 and 1,707 jumps respectively.


The skydivers both had open parachutes when they collided between 200 to 300 feet above the ground near Eloy, Ariz. Their parachutes collapsed and they plummeted to the ground.

O'Rourke, of the U.K., was rushed to Casa Grande Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Schmehl, of Germany, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The incident was part of a Skydive Arizona jump involving 200 jumpers and nine planes in an attempt to set a world record. Their goal was to set the record for the biggest formation to form, break apart, and come back together midair.

A third skydiver was injured in an unrelated incident, but his condition was not known.

"It is a sport we love, but it has its dangers," said Andrew Barker, an Australian jumper who said the group had completed five jumps and was attempting a sixth. "These people involved all have a lot of jumps. I don't think anyone had less than 1,000 jumps."


FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the administration would investigate to determine if the parachutes had been packed properly and by the right person.

Skydive Arizona said it would reassess its planned jumps. It released the following statement:

"On Dec. 3, 2013 at approximately 4:45 p.m., two highly experienced skydivers collided under their open parachutes at about 200 feet above the ground. Their parachutes collapsed and both skydivers were killed.

"The skydivers were participating in an invitational 200-skydiver record attempt. Names are being withheld pending notification of their families.

"In an unrelated incident, another skydiver in the same group had a hard landing and suffered a back injury.

"There were no problems related to aircraft or equipment. Weather conditions were good and the accidents occurred on the fifth group jump of the day. "


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