While skydiving injuries are not too common, they can be serious when something goes wrong.
However, accidents on the Fourth of July are all too common. That’s what happened to Steve Henderson of Lafayette, Indiana, north of Indianapolis. He was injured while performing at a fireworks celebration in Mooresville, Indiana. On July 4, 2017, spectators visited Pioneer Park in Mooresville, Indiana, to celebrate Independence Day, share food with one another, listen to live music, and enjoy the scheduled festivities and entertainment. There were fireworks and four parachutists that performed at the Fourth of July event, including Henderson.
When Henderson started to try to come down, he apparently lost the wind in his chute as he neared where he was supposed to land.
Instead of hitting the intended target zone, the parachutist missed the mark by about 50 to 75 feet and instead hit a nearby vehicle, according to Brent Callahan, Superintendent for Mooresville Park and Recreation. The video that records Henderson’s fall shows that everything was going smoothly just seconds before he began to plummet. Moving deftly through the air, it looks as if the skydiver is comfortable and in his element.
The crowd below cheers for the performance. However, in just a matter of seconds, Henderson’s chute looks as if it suddenly deflates, probably signaling a change in wind direction. The audience’s cheers quickly turn to gasps and screams as Henderson starts to fall. While the height does not look too significant, the parachutist clearly lands on a car. The video then cuts off. Henderson was injured in the accident.
He sustained an ankle injury that will require surgery.
Luckily, that was the extent of the bodily harm the skydiver suffered from the unfortunate event. This accident proves that skydiving, while normally generally safe, has its dangers for everyone, even those who are experienced and have years of practice under their belts. Indiana Skydiving Center’s owner and operator, George Capitanio, claims that Henderson began skydiving in 1991, meaning he had a whopping 26 years of experience at the time of his accident.
Even with all of his experience, a skydiving mishap like this can be unforeseen and dangerous.
Yet, skydiving remains a relatively safe activity. Skydiving-related deaths have steadily increased from the 1970s until now. In fact, according to the Boston Globe, between 2000 and 2013, the rate of skydiving fatalities every year decreased by 25 percent, which means that skydiving is getting even safer. In 2014, it was estimated that skydivers had an eight out of one million chance of being killed by a skydiving accident.
For comparison, the National Safety Council claims that the odds of dying in a car accident are 1 in 88.
However, the Fourth of July is known as the most dangerous American holiday. Each year, many people are rushed to the emergency room for Independence Day-related injuries. Most of these injuries are due to fireworks, both from irresponsible and proper use. That being said, most of these fireworks-related injuries are more directly related to fireworks than Henderson’s was.