Few industries enjoy the lack of regulatory oversight that the skydiving industry enjoys. Similarly, few industries center around people plummeting down to earth from the heavens like skydiving. Those two ideas, any which way you want to look at them, don’t mesh.
Fortunately, after a near-fatal accident, people are finally looking into the sort of protocols and provisions that are in place for people who decide to jump out of airplanes with nothing more than a parachute and a whole lot of faith.
Recently, a 30-year-old man named Gerado Flores attempted his first dive after two years of training. With seemingly all of the education and training necessary for this sort of activity at hand, he should have had no problems. As you can probably guess, he had problems. Nobody writes about the successful jumps. Seconds into his drop, his parachute opened. At 13,000 feet. (Seven thousand feet higher than when they are typically supposed to open.)
Flores passed out on his way to the ground, however, his exploits were caught on a camera he was wearing. Twenty minutes after the initial jump, somehow, he landed on the ground safely.
Ultimately, Flores regained consciousness two weeks later. He had broken ribs and a lacerated tongue – but he was alive.
What caused his near-death experience? Per CBS:
The report found a “critical” velcro closing flap on the parachute casing was “completely worn.” Suspension lines were broken. And the parachute’s rigging had knots, prompting the inspector to note: “these lines should have been replaced prior to allowing this parachute to be placed in service.”
Needless to say, the company with which Flores decided to do this jump will be heavily scrutinized over the next few weeks. Here is to hoping it doesn’t end there, though. The entire skydiving industry, despite its growing popularity, has been answering to no one in recent years.
It’s time to change that.