A skydiving accident in Australia has claimed three lives after a midair collision brought two men and one woman plummeting to the ground.
In the tiny community of Mission Beach, Queensland, parachuting is a popular activity for tourists looking for an exciting way to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
But police are now investigating the cause of the deaths after the parachute of a pair of tandem skydivers and that of another male skydiver failed to deploy properly.
Police can confirm three skydivers have died following an incident at Mission Beach. https://t.co/ebsAVIoKRW
— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) October 13, 2017
The three came down near Alexander Drive at Mission Beach shortly after 3 p.m.
“Initial investigations indicate that a solo skydiver may have collided with tandem skydivers in midair with their parachutes failing to deploy correctly,” reads a statement from the police.
“Two men in their 30s and a woman in her 50s were located deceased at the scene.”
The Cairns Post later reported that the woman was a well-known Mission Beach mother, Kerri Pike, 50, who was tandem skydiving with an instructor when the tragedy took place.
Pike is the wife of a former councillor for the Cassowary Coast, which includes the town of Mission Beach.
The Daily Mail has reported that Pike, a mother of eight, received the skydiving trip as a 50th birthday gift from her family.
According to skydiving company, SKYDIVE Australia, the solo diver was an experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps and Pike, who the company did not list by name, was jumping with a “highly experienced instructor.”
The company said skydiving operations have been suspended at Mission Beach while authorities investigate the incident.
“The Company extends its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the individuals and families involved and the broader skydiving community,” read the statement obtained by the Cairns Post.
An eyewitness to the final moments of at least one of the skydivers told the Post there was nothing he could do.
“You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening,” said the witness who asked not to be named. “I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees, and that was the last I saw.”
The witness said he may have seen two chutes tangled together.
“I don’t understand how three people could have died, unless someone was trying to catch them,” he said.
Police have not yet released further details of the crash.