Skydiver dies southeast of Phoenix, 2nd fatal incident involving skydiving in Eloy in less than a month

Feb 5, 2024, 4:25 AM

(Facebook Photo)...

(Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

ELOY, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of a 73-year-old skydiver in Arizona, the second deadly incident involving skydiving in Eloy in less than a month.

Terry Gardner and three fellow experienced skydivers were making their third jump of the day around noon on Wednesday, and the group planned a formation jump from about 14,000 feet, police said. Gardner’s main parachute never fully deployed to slow his descent, police in Eloy said.

The other three skydivers landed safely, but Gardner was rushed to a hospital where he later died.

Gardner lived in Casa Grande, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) northeast of Eloy, and was “a highly experienced skydiver with several thousands of jumps,” according to Skydive Arizona.

“The jumper did not deploy the reserve (second) parachute. The skydiver was jumping with parachute gear owned and maintained by the jumper and the weather conditions were clear and calm,” Skydive Arizona said in a statement. “An investigation is currently underway to determine the cause of the accident and no further statements will be made until the results of the investigation have been released.”

Federal Aviation Administration officials said the agency will investigate how the parachute was packed as well as flight rules for the pilot and aircraft.

If the FAA doesn’t find any evidence of regulatory violations, the case will be turned over to Eloy police.

Federal authorities still are investigating the Jan. 14 crash of a hot air balloon in a desert area of Eloy that left a Droplyne Hot Air Balloon Rides pilot and three passengers dead and critically injured another passenger.

Eight skydivers had successfully jumped from the gondola before the balloon began experiencing problems.

Federal investigators said an “unspecified problem” with the “envelope” of that balloon may have led to the fatal crash. The “envelope” is the bag that fills with hot air to make the balloon rise.

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Skydiver dies southeast of Phoenix, 2nd fatal incident involving skydiving in Eloy in less than a month