Skydiver lost consciousness mid-air before crashing onto house

This is the house on Myriad Road a parachutist crashed onto Monday afternoon.
Image Credit: Vernon Fire and Rescue Services

VERNON - The victim of Monday’s skydiving accident was on his first solo ride when he lost consciousness, says the owner of Okanagan Skydive.

Bret Chalmers says the 50-year-old skydiving student started his ride by jumping from a plane at around 3,500 feet. It was what Chalmers calls a normal opening, nothing out of the ordinary. The instructor was on the ground, communicating with the student by radio. The ride was three quarters of the way over when the instructor lost communication with the student.

“The report from the student is he lost consciousness,” Chalmers says. “He seemed to possibly have fainted... it resulted in a collision with a home.”

The parachutist crash landed on a home in the 2400 block of Myriad Road — not far from the airport — and rolled off the roof. His parachute got snagged in power lines and B.C. Hydro was called to the scene.

The man made off with only cuts and bruises, Chalmers says.

“This is the first time this has ever happened. We probably do about a thousand of these jumps a year and we’ve been here 25 years,” Chalmers says.

Before a student is taken on a solo ride, they have to complete 4-6 hours of training. The company requires a student’s medical conditions be disclosed and if there are any concerns, the individual may not be permitted to take the course.

Chalmers says the student’s ride over the airport and nearby residential areas is a typical route, completed by many parachuters.

Chalmers says the incident appears to be isolated, but he will report the accident to a national skydiving agency to determine if any trends are developing in the industry.

Vernon RCMP attended the scene but spokesperson Gord Molendyk says their file on the incident is closed.

“The industry itself may be investigating,” Molendyk says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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