Skydiver killed in accident at Bridgewater 

A MAN has died following a skydiving incident at Bridgewater yesterday. 

Police and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority attended the scene of the incident for several hours following a 000 call about 11am. 

The man, thought to be aged in his 20s, was on a solo jump run by Australian Skydive Bridgewater.

The company’s chief instructor Ralph Hamilton said the man was killed in a “landing mishap”. 

“His parachute did not fail, it was a serious injury during the landing,” he said. 

“He was an individual skydiver who has had a bad landing and was severely injured. 

“Apart from that I can’t comment.”

Mr Hamilton said there was no video footage of the incident. 

It is believed the man died after hitting a barbed wire fence or tree in a paddock off the Bridgewater-Maldon Road. 

A police spokesman said the man was unresponsive during the jump prior to landing.  A website for Australian Skydive said the company had more than 50 years’ experience and more than 40,000 tandem jumps “with no serious incidents or injuries”. 

The website said the company’s two owners hold the highest instructor ratings attainable through the Australian Parachute Federation and one of the best safety records “in Australia, if not the world”. 

An Ambulance Victoria spokesman said the deceased man was about 35 years old, but police said he was thought to be in his 20s.

Stephen Fickling, safety director of the Australian Parachute Federation, said skydiving deaths were relatively uncommon, with an average of two fatalities a year over the past 10 years. 

“(This is) out of the number of jumps that we do, which is in the hundreds of thousands,” he said.

“The fatality rate is fairly low.

“In terms of putting things into perspective, it is safe, but it does have an inherently dangerous side to it.”

Mr Fickling said the industry was heavily regulated and that the sport could be reasonably safe with the right rules, training and attitude. 

He said the APF was immediately alerted to the incident and would conduct its own investigation. 

“It’s very early days into investigation,” he said. “Any information I have (on a cause) really isn’t for broadcast until we can establish the facts.”

A report is being prepared for the coroner.

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