Skydive Perris manager Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld spoke out today about Tuesday’s skydiving accident that claimed the life of 32-year-old Michael Ungar of Ontario, Canada.
“Skydive Perris is a vacation-land for skydivers around the world. Mike came down with a group of friends, all of them had thousands of jumps, a lot of experience,” Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
Emergency personnel attempted CPR, but Ungar succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
According to Brodsky-Chenfeld, Ungar was taking part in a popular skydiving event that is known as swooping.
The practice involves trying to gain speed as you approach the ground, Brodsky-Chenfield said.
“(Swooping) involves extra risk above the normal risks, but despite what people think, skydivers don’t try to push the risk factor,” said Brodsky-Chenfield, adding that Ungar jumped at 5,000 feet and deployed the parachute almost immediately after the jump.
“I met with (Mike’s group), found their equipment safe, noted their experience and provided them all with the rules,” he said, adding that swooping is permitted only in certain areas of the field.
Ungar had safely performed the same jump earlier in the day several times, according to Brodsky-Chenfeld.
“You can imagine how this makes us ask ourselves ‘did we do enough,’” he said. “Skydiving is as safe as you make it, but you’re still jumping out a plane.”
Skydive Perris, which has been training and engaging skydivers since 1976, has worked with hundreds of thousands of students and trained professionals over the years. Brodsky-Chenfeld said there has never been a student fatality and injuries have been minor in nature.
The facility’s So Cal location, well-maintained airplanes and its staff of some of the most experienced trainers make Skydive Perris one of the most popular skydiving destinations for enthusiasts around the world, Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
This is the fourth fatal accident to happen at the Skydive Perris facility in 2011.
Brodsky-Chenfeld said that while it is rare for a skydiver to attempt maneuvers that are beyond his abilities, there have been a few times when instructors from Skydive Perris have turned away or redirected people who “want to advance more quickly than they should.”
According to Brodsky-Chenfeld, that was not the case with Ungar and his friends.
“It’s not like this was a group of extreme adrenaline junkies. These were all squared-away people with thousands of jumps,” he said.
For skydiving hopefuls, Brodsky-Chenfield said that risk is always a factor.
He said, “We do everything in our power to make it safe – from checking licenses to making sure equipment is up-to-date. But, we’re jumping out of airplanes. Sometimes it just comes down to an individual making a fatal mistake.”
Kerri S. Mabee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @kerrimabee.