The usual ideal winds for skydiving turned for only a moment Sunday, just long enough to injure two exhibition jumpers on the Capital City Skydiving team.
“The winds are usually from the north or the south they’re usually perfect for landing there. That’s where they were calling the winds, from the south along the beach. The first two planes went in and dropped their jumpers and it went well,” said Bob Verret, owner Capital City Skydiving.
The second load of jumpers, four per plane in two planes, had a normal start to the dive.
“Everything was normal, everything was fine,” Verret said. “We can’t see the wind, we can go by the flag there [on the beach]. When I was coming down the flag was straight up and down, the main thrust of the wind was from the south … however when we were about 15 feet from the ground we all experienced a gust, a burble, and it basically was collapsing our canopies. It didn’t matter what we did.”
All suffered hard landings, two suffered injuries and were taken to hospital.
“It was the last second,” Verret said. “I’m three seconds from landing when all of a sudden my parachute is not responding anymore.”
He looked back at his son, Daniel Verret, the final jumper and one of those hospitalized.
“His canopy basically did a 90 degree swipe to the right and pounded him sideways on the beach,” Bob Verret said. A second injured jumper was also taken to hospital.
“These jumpers they’re all professional jumpers basically, you have to have at least 500 jumps to be an exhibition jump rating. They are the top of the line,” Verret said.
“They’ll heal and we’ll get back on track again. … The guys that got injured, they’re going to go back at it.”
“There was a real big crowd there and when the took the last jumper into the ambulance the whole crowd cheered and clapped.”