Three die as chutes tangle up
A MISSION Beach mum given a birthday skydive was one of three people killed in a freak accident yesterday after her parachute became tangled.
Kerri Pike, 54, the wife of former Cassowary Coast councillor Alister Pike, was tandem skydiving with h a highly experienced instrucructor from Skydive Mission sion Beach when the collision sion occurred about 3pm. Thehe skydive was a birthday y present from her hus- band and children.
Ms Pike’s body was found in a tree on a banana farm at 3.30pm, , along with the instructor. r.
Another highly experierienced instructor – who was diving solo and had comompleted thousands of jumps mps in the past – was also found dead at a house nearby.
The incident, believed to be one of the state’s worst, has left the local community in shock, with witnesses telling of the horror of watching the fall.
Skydiving is popular for backpackers as well as locals at Mission Beach.
Skydive Mission Beach advertises the highest tandem jump in Australia at 15,000ft or 4572m.
“You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening,” a man, who did not wish to be named, said.
“I was just watching him in freefall until he went behind the trees and that was the last I saw.”
The man said it appeared the skydiver did not activate a backup parachute after the first failed.
The three skydivers are believed to have fallen in a small cluster of trees behind Ken Barnes’s property.
“It’s all happened on my property or partly on my property,” he said. “I was in having a shower … then I just heard the sirens.
“All of a sudden, there’s a dozen or 20 police here.
“I don’t know how they landed, all I know is we’ve got a couple of bodies at the back of our house, under the trees in body bags. The police are all around.”
Staff at Eco Village Mission Beach said skydivers typically landed on a stretch of beach further south.
Mr Barnes said his property was a considerable distance from this site.
“The accident, the crash must have happened up in the air,” he said.
Ambulance spokesman Neil Noble said the injuries were “so severe” the skydivers were pronounced dead at the scene.
A woman who skydived at Mission Beach last weekend said she was sick to her stomach to think she and her partner could have died.
“This news has left us shaken, in tears and sick to our stomachs,” she said.
“We are so, so lucky and are thanking our lucky stars that we are safe.”
A spokesman for Skydive Australia said the firm extended its “deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences” to those involved as well as their families and the skydiving community.
“One … had completed thousands of jumps, was completing a solo jump,” he said. “The other two were jumping as a tandem pair.”
Skydiving has been suspended while authorities investigate the tragedy.
TRAGEDY: Other clients from Skydive Mission Beach land safely on the beach yesterday ( left). ABOVE: Kerri Pike with husband Alister.