Sad and horrifying news out of the Central Valley this morning: a skydiver fell to his death at the Pomegranate Festival in Madera on Saturday afternoon, after his parachute failed to deploy during a skydiving demonstration.
The A.P. reports that the skydiver was a 65-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released. Witness Linda Carbon told the Fresno Bee that as the man jumped out of the plane, she saw that his parachute was immediately tangled. The wind blew him across the sky before he plummeted to the ground, where he died on impact, about 200 feet away from Carbon in the parking lot at the Madera Municipal Airport.
Madera police Sgt. Felix Gonzalez said that once the skydiver realized his initial parachute was tangled, he tried to cut it free. When that didn't work, he attempted to use his back-up chute, but that didn't work either. Gonzalez said "quite a few" people at the festival witnessed the man fall to his death; Carbon said some of the bystanders even heard him strike the ground. A festival official said the festival had drawn about 5,000 attendees, which is the largest the event has ever been.
The Federal Aviation Administration is now involved in investigating the incident, along with Madera police.