A Navy skydiver performing an aerial demonstration for Fleet Week New York on May 28 died when his parachute failed to open.
Fleet Week New York is described on the official website as "the city’s time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services."
The event has been around since 1984, but this year will be remembered for this tragic mishap. The man who died, whose name was not immediately released, was a member of the Leap Frogs, the United States Navy parachute team that travels across the country giving demonstrations, reports The New York Times.
The man was pronounced dead less than an hour after the Coast Guard and the Jersey City Fire Department’s marine unit pulled him from the water and transported him to a hospital, according to the Navy.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, and I ask for all of your prayers for the Navy SEAL community, who lost a true patriot today,” said Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic. Scorby added that the cause of the malfunction is being investigated.
Spectator Maria Ashley, 49, said few people around her realized anything had happened because several tall glass towers on the New Jersey side of the water blocked a view of the parachutist as he went into the river.
Bjoern Kils, 37, was watching the event from a boat when he saw three Leap Frogs jump from a helicopter and commence their aerial maneuvers, reports the Daily Mail. "Almost the same time that they touched down in Liberty State Park, we heard a splash and turned around very quick. I saw the water splash, and apparently there was a fourth parachutist," he said. "We're not sure where he came from. We didn't see him exit the same helicopter and apparently the chute did not deploy."
Kils said that when the emergency responders arrived, "They pulled him out of the water and started doing chest compressions. ... He was just limp in the water."
By 4 p.m., the news had begun to spread. “It’s hard to believe it really happened and everyone is sitting here having a good time and the music is still playing,” said Nancy Malinowski. “It’s so unnecessary, just to entertain people, for someone to have died. People came out to support the military, and he dies on Memorial Day weekend.”