A skydiving instructor died in Texas when his parachute didn’t open during a tandem jump, authorities and company officials said.
The victim, whose identity wasn’t immediately released, suffered “severe” injuries in the tandem jump Saturday afternoon at Skydive Houston in Waller, where he was rushed to a hospital, company officials said Sunday.
The instructor’s female student was airlifted to a hospital with “serious” injuries, but is expected to survive, the company said.
“Jump operations are currently suspended pending both local law enforcement and [Federal Aviation Administration] investigations,” they continued.
The instructor’s parachute during the jump “failed to open,” Waller County Sheriff Troy Guidry told CNN.
“The primary and secondary [parachutes] both just kind of swirled down,” Guidry said.
It’s unclear what caused the incident.
A man who lives nearby told KPRC he spotted the pair in the air struggling with their parachutes.
“He let off his primary and then the secondary chute like opened halfway up so he didn’t fall like a straight fall, he was like 50 percent chute, like a corkscrew,” witness Alex Arias recalled.
The male instructor was unconscious after plummeting to the ground, while the female student was alert and calling for help, Arias said.
Tandem skydiving accidents are “extremely rare,” Skydive Houston said, citing one student fatality per 500,000 jumps in the last 10 years, according to the United States Parachute Association.
“Skydive Houston, along with the greater skydiving community at large, is deeply saddened by the loss of our tandem instructor and friend,” the company said in a statement. “Our sincerest condolences are extended to his friends and family. We continue to pray for a full recovery for the injured tandem student.”