Mum of eight dies in skydive tragedy
Two instructors, mother killed in parachute accident
A MOTHER-OF-EIGHT was one of three skydivers killed in a freak accident yesterday after her parachute became tangled on descent. Kerri Pike, 54, was tandem skydiving with an experienced instructor from Cairns’ Skydive Mission Beach when the collision occurred. The skydive was a birthday present for Ms Pike from her husband and children. Her body, and the bodies of the two experienced instructors Peter Dawson and Toby Turner, were found on a banana farm and in the garden of a nearby house. Mr Dawson and Mr Turner were close friends, both in their 30s, and highly experienced skydivers who had completed thousands of jumps. Witnesses watched the tragedy unfold midair, staring helplessly as it occurred. “One chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening,” said a witness. “I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees.” He said it appeared the skydiver did not activate a backup parachute after the first failed. Skydiving is a popular activity for backpackers, as well as locals, at Mission Beach. Skydive Mission Beach advertises the highest tandem jump in Australia at 15,000ft.
The skydivers are believed to have fallen to their death onto a cluster of trees on Cairns man Ken Barnes’ property.
Mr Barnes said he was in the shower at the time of the accident and was alerted to it from the sirens. “All of a sudden, there’s a dozen or twenty police here,” he said.
“I don’t know how they landed, all I know is we’ve got a couple of bodies at the back of our house,”
Mr Barnes’ property is quite a considerable distance from the beach site where skydivers usually land.
“The accident must have happened up in the air.”
A spokesman for Skydive Australia said the company extended its “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences” to those involved.
“One of the deceased, a highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps, was completing a solo jump,” he said.
“The other two were jumping as a tandem pair: a highly experienced instructor and a customer.”
Skydiving operations have been suspended at Mission Beach while the appropriate authorities conduct an extensive investigation.
Kerri Pike, pictured here with husband Alister and daughter Kyanna, 6, was one of three killed in a skydiving accident yesterday. Picture: Natalie Dixon A parachute caught in a tree at Mission Beach. Picture: Chris Holmes