An experienced Canadian jumper died in a skydiving accident Tuesday at a parachuting facility in Perris. Investigators said the man was performing a risky, high-speed maneuver known as “swooping” when he landed hard in a shallow pond.
• A Canadian skydiver was performing a high-speed landing trick when he failed to pull himself upright soon enough.
• His parachute was open but he landed hard and died.
• It was the fifth fatality at the facility this year.
The fatal accident occurred shortly after 2 p.m., according to a CBS News report.
Skydiving center manager Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld said 32-year-old Michael Ungar, who lived in Aylmer, Ontario, sometimes worked as an instructor at Skydive Hollister on California’s Central Coast but had rarely jumped at the Perris facility.
On Tuesday, Ungar was performing a dramatic landing maneuver known as “swooping,” in which the diver pulls out of a high-speed dive just in time to skim a few feet above the ground at horizontal speeds up to 60 mph.
The goal is to level off a few feet off the ground, Brodsky-Chenfeld told the Los Angeles Times.
Divers reach speeds of up to 50 mph when they jump from the plane, but gradually slow down, he said. Many divers practice swooping over the shallow pond at the Perris facility, Brodsky-Chenfeld said. The water provides an extra layer of protection.
“It’s softer than the ground but not that soft if you hit it at a high speed,” he said.
United State Parachuting Association safety director Jim Crouch said swooping is risky because of the high speed involved.
“A lot of jumpers choose to land this way because it’s exciting,” Crouch said. “But it’s very unforgiving.”
Ungar had successfully performed the same maneuver several times earlier that day, Brodsky-Chenfeld said. But on his last attempt, he didn’t pull up soon enough.
“He was a confident sky diver who made a big mistake too close to the ground,” Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
Ungar’s parachute was open and he was circling as he approached the ground, witness Jack Nix of Fontana told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. But Ungar did not pull up or turn his body upright. Instead, he disappeared behind a plane on the ground. A cloud of dust rose as he landed hard.
“It’s shocking,” Nix said. “I feel sorry for the guy.”
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency only investigates such deaths to determine whether the parachute was packed properly by a certified person.
Ungar’s death was the fifth fatality at the Perris Valley Airport facility in 2011. There have been a total of 14 deaths since 2000.
California Accident Lawyers
The trial attorneys at Blackman Legal Group, a California-based law firm founded by renowned trial attorney Clifford Blackman, have successfully represented accident victims and their families for 35 years. The nationwide toll-free number to call for a free consultation is 1-866-692-8126.
- • Value: We offer discounted fees to callers who read our blog.
• Experience: Our attorneys are top-ranked.
• Consideration: We advance all expenses on cases. And we never charge a fee unless your case is successfully settled.