Experienced? skydiver killed in accident at Tyagarah

By SAMANTHA HEALY and SAMANTHA TURNBULL

A 52-YEAR-OLD Murwillumbah man has been killed in a skydiving accident at Tyagarah, north of Byron Bay.

The man died close to the Tyagarah airfield about 11.30am Saturday after jumping from a plane at 14,000 feet, or approximately 4.3 kilometres.

A spokeswoman from Byron Bay Skydive said the man was a 'very experienced skydiver' and licensed parachutist. However, she could not reveal any further details about the man's identity because his name has yet to be released by police.

She also declined to comment on how the accident occurred, but said it was being investigated by the Australian Parachute Federation who have launched an independent inquiry.

Police from the Tweed/Byron Local Area Command are still investigating the fatal accident and have sent the man's parachute and harness away for testing.

"The man was one of 16 divers participating in a recreational skydive," Tweed Police Inspector Darren Steele said yesterday.

"He exited from the plane at 14,000 feet and his primary parachute failed to open. "He performed a cutaway (released the failed chute) but his reserve chute failed to deploy.

"He then hit the ground adjacent to the airfield suffering extensive injuries."

Paramedics were called to the accident scene but could not save the man who died on impact.

A number of witnesses to the fatal dive have been spoken to by police and a post mortem will be conducted in the next few days.

A brief is being prepared for the Coroner. The death is the second of its kind on the Northern Rivers this year.

Icelandic tourist, Benjamin Arnason, jumped to his death from a helicopter at Bonalbo in January.

His parachute also failed to open properly, however he was jumping from a much lower height than the Murwillumbah man at Tyagarah.

Goonellabah man Anthony Coombes, a friend of Arnason's, died while base jumping in Norway last year.



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