SKY­DIVE TRAGEDY

Cam­era footage key to in­quiry

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - GRACE MA­SON

CAM­ERA footage taken by wit­nesses watch­ing their loved ones sky­dive will likely be used in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the deaths of three peo­ple at Mis­sion Beach.

Se­nior po­lice said video ev­i­dence would be­come cru­cial to estab­lish­ing what went wrong when it is be­lieved a solo sky­diver may have col­lided with tan­dem sky­divers in midair just af­ter 3pm and plum­meted to the ground.

Cas­sowary Coast po­lice Insp Steve Ker­s­ley said the trio came down about 1km from the des­ig­nated drop zone.

It is un­der­stood the solo sky­diver, a man in his 30s, landed be­side a house on Alexan­der Drive, while the tan­dem pair, an­other man in his 30s and lo­cal wo­man Kerry Pike, 50, be­came en­tan­gled in a tree about 500m away.

“We be­lieve there may be footage from cam­eras on the ground or even from the air­craft they jumped out of,” Insp Ker­s­ley said.

“This may help give us some idea of what hap­pened.

“This is a dev­as­tat­ing tragedy, not only for the sky­div­ing com­pany and com­mu­nity, but the small com­mu­nity of Mis­sion Beach.

“This is a really pop­u­lar pastime down there, it at­tracts a lot of tourists. It just ap­pears to be a tragic ac­ci­dent.”

The sites where the sky­divers fell were de­clared crime scenes by po­lice who seized sev­eral pieces of equip­ment.

It is un­der­stood the Coro­ner trav­elled to in­spect the scenes last night and po­lice will pre­pare a re­port.

Insp Ker­s­ley said there had been three other tan­dem jumpers on the same flight, but they all landed safely.

It is un­der­stood the Aus­tralian Parachute Fed­er­a­tion, which is a part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Civil Avi­a­tion Safety Au­thor­ity, will lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

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