Mum of eight dies in sky­dive tragedy

Two in­struc­tors, mother killed in para­chute ac­ci­dent

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - The Everest - GRACE MA­SON

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

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