Experienced Skydiver Dies in Lodi
I’m Ed Smith, a Lodi personal injury lawyer. An experienced skydiver died before the start of Memorial Day weekend during a wingsuit jump. This is one of several recent fatalities at this jump location.
On 24 May, a man identified as Matthew Ciancio was skydiving with several other experienced skydivers on a flight out of the Lodi Parachute Center. All persons exited the aircraft at 13,000 feet as planned and flew in formation during their initial descent.
All of the skydivers, including Ciancio, deployed their main parachutes at 4,000 feet, a much lower distance than normal due to them wearing wingsuits. At this point, Ciancio’s parachute malfunctioned and he continued toward the ground at a high rate of speed.
Ciancio then tried to discard his main parachute so he could deploy his emergency parachute, but it was too late. Ciancio crashed into a vineyard a few miles from the Lodi Parachute Center.
Cause of the Accident According the Center
The spokesman for the Lodi Parachute Center says that the accident was caused by Ciancio’s error. He maintains that Ciancio deployed his emergency parachute too late, thereby resulting in too hard of a fall. The spokesman says Ciancio waited too long before getting rid of his initial parachute. This then left him with too little time to deploy his emergency parachute and slow his descent.
Cause of the Accident According to Witnesses
Witnesses and experienced skydivers speculate that Ciancio was rendered unresponsive after the initial parachute deployment. They speculate that Ciancio sustained cervical sprain in what they call a “hard open.” This is when the parachute rapidly deploys, jerking the skydiver up at a high rate of speed. Hard opens are caused by how the jumper packs the parachute.
These witnesses, all experienced skydivers, speculate that the cervical sprain temporarily knocked Ciancio unconscious. By the time he regained consciousness, it was too late for him to slow his descent.
Ciancio and the others were all wearing wingsuits, specially designed suits with webbing connecting all the limbs together. These suits allow skydivers to go longer before deploying their parachutes.
Wingsuits are made of highly durable fabric that allows skydivers to “glide” on the air, much like birds. However, skydivers wearing wingsuits still reach high speeds that can lead to problems in parachute deployment. This contributes to a high rate of wingsuit accidents.
History of Accidents at the Jump Center
This was the 18th death at the Lodi Parachute Center since it opened in 1981, 13 of which have occurred since 1999. Two accidents in 2016 killed a total of three people, but the Center had remained accident free in 2017 until now.
Watch Youtube Video – History of Accidents at Parachute Center – Although the video is from 2012 it gives some information on the accident history of the Parachute Center.
Several of these accidents have been caused by negligence on the part of the center whereas others were simply accidents. One of the accidents last year was caused by an unlicensed instructor employed by the center. However, as Ciancio was an experienced jumper, he did not need an instructor to accompany him on this flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the accident to determine if the center was once again negligent.
Lodi Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith and I am a Lodi personal injury lawyer. If you, or someone you love has been injured or killed by someone else’s negligence, please call me at (209) 227-1931 for free, friendly advice. You may also call me toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
I have been helping the Lodi community with personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for more than 35 years.
Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
See some of my Verdicts and Settlements here.
Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons