Singaporean, instructor killed in skydiving tragedy near Sydney

A screenshot from a video of one of the victims on the ground. Footage taken above the driveway showed the parachutes, and indicated that they opened either partially or in full. A Sydney Skydivers plane typically used to fly skydivers. A skydiver wh
A Sydney Skydivers plane typically used to fly skydivers. A skydiver who went out before the Singaporean victim said instructors had raised concerns about the wind direction, but the jump was straightforward. Local wind speeds were reportedly relatively light at about 15kmh to 25kmh. PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF SYDNEY SKYDIVERS
A screenshot from a video of one of the victims on the ground. Footage taken above the driveway showed the parachutes, and indicated that they opened either partially or in full. A Sydney Skydivers plane typically used to fly skydivers. A skydiver wh
A screenshot from a video of one of the victims on the ground. Footage taken above the driveway showed the parachutes, and indicated that they opened either partially or in full. PHOTO: 7 NEWS

Young man and instructor crashed on a driveway about 1km from the intended landing point

A Singaporean man and his instructor on a tandem skydive in Australia were killed after they crashed onto a driveway on a property outside Sydney.

Police are investigating the cause of the tragedy which occurred yesterday at about 2pm during a 4,200m-high dive operated by Sydney Skydivers.

The company said the instructor, who was in his 60s, was very experienced, and that the cause of the accident was unclear.

The Singaporean, said to be in his 20s with an Australian work visa, is believed to have died on impact, as did the instructor.

The young man's nationality was reported by local media but has yet to be officially confirmed.

The owner of Sydney Skydivers, Mr Phil Onis, said the instructor had been skydiving for 20 years. The firm claims to be the largest skydiving training centre in Australia.

 

"He was an experienced skydiver," Mr Onis told Sydney's Sunday Telegraph.

"We are keen to get in there and find out what happened. This has never happened before."

A police spokesman in the state of New South Wales would not confirm details or nationalities of the victims. The spokesman told The Sunday Times last night that they would not be saying anything further until their next of kin have been informed.

The accident occurred at Wilton, a town about 85km south-west of Sydney.

The pair landed about 1km from their intended landing point in an open field. Television footage taken by helicopter from above the driveway where the men landed showed the parachutes, and indicated that they opened either partially or in full.

Ms Catalina Granados, a Colombian tourist who took part in a separate jump, said she caught a bus from Sydney to the skydiving base yesterday with the Singaporean.

She said she was shocked by the tragedy, adding that the skydivers were told of the incident only when they returned to Sydney.

"I was in shock, I couldn't believe it," she told Daily Mail Australia. "The conditions on the flight were good and I never imagined this could happen."

A diver who went out before the Singaporean told Fairfax Media that instructors raised concerns about the wind direction but the jump was straightforward.

Local wind speeds were reportedly relatively light at about 15kmh to 25kmh.

Sydney Skydivers has reportedly been involved in at least four deaths since 2001.

In 2012, a skydiver died after colliding with another diver in the air and then losing control of his parachute before crashing.

SPOTLIGHT ON EQUIPMENT

The main focus will be on the equipment, as long as it's not too badly disturbed… We should be able to establish exactly what happened with the equipment.

MR BRAD TURNER, chief executive of the Australian Parachute Federation, whose investigators were assisting the police.

In yesterday's case, the police were notified about the deaths by a resident who saw the pair fall to the ground. A young girl who lives on the property where the men fell saw the bodies on the driveway and is now receiving counselling.

"She has seen the aftermath," a co-owner of the property, Mr Chase Stephenson, told Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"She hasn't seen them hit the ground but she is pretty traumatised."

Officers are awaiting inquiries by aviation investigators and will prepare a report for the coroner.

The chief executive of the Australian Parachute Federation, Mr Brad Turner, said its investigators were assisting the police.

"The main focus will be on the equipment, as long as it's not too badly disturbed… We should be able to establish exactly what happened with the equipment," he told ABC News. "Whether it was equipment failure or human failure is something that will have to be established over time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 16, 2017, with the headline 'S'porean, instructor killed in skydiving tragedy near Sydney'. Print Edition | Subscribe