A skydiving trainer killed Sunday was jumping without a mechanism that would have automatically deployed his parachute, according to the owner of the skydiving company.
Around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, San Diego County sheriff's deputies were called to help find a missing skydiver in the Jamul area of San Diego County, according to officials. He was missing at the John Nichol's Field, a small gliderport in the 13000 block of Otay Lakes Road.
By 5:15 p.m., the sheriff's helicopter had found the man dead. His name and cause of death have not been released.
Skydive San Diego operates out of that field. The company's owner Buzz Fink said the victim, a man in his 20s, was a contractor who was training other skydiving employees.
Fink told reporters that the victim was practicing a maneuver called tracking when he collided with his jump partner. At this point, Fink believes the trainer may have been knocked unconscious and unable to open his parachute.
The other jumper involved in the midair collision was not injured and was able to safely land in the drop zone.
Fink said there is a chip at the top of the parachute bag that will automatically deploy the chute if the jumper is falling too fast. However, the owner said the victim's chip was undergoing maintenance and not in his parachute Sunday.
Fink said the trainer was an experienced skydiver with more than 1,000 jumps under his belt, so he was not required to jump with the chip. Fink said the trainer chose to jump without it.
"We do well over 100,000 jumps a year, and we pride ourselves on our safety and everything we do as far as our equipment, our airplanes," Fink said. "However, it is skydiving and things can happen and generally you do everything we can to prevent it."
"I liken it to driving down the road. You have a safety belt, an air bag. The bottom line is, you’re still at a risk if someone crosses that line and hits your car,” he said.
Last month, a skydiver went unconscious after making a hard landing in the same area.
Check back for updates on this developing story.