A skydiving instructor was killed on Saturday.
The accident was described as a “freak accident.”
According to witnesses, he “misjudged” his turn. The location of the accident was in Walton County, Georgia, at the Monroe-Walton County Airport. The accident occurred on Saturday, June 10. The time of the accident was approximately 2:40 p.m. local time. Joe Bennett was 49 at the time of the accident. He was also a skydiving instructor at Monroe-Walton County Airport. Bennett had over twenty years of skydiving experience and has picked up the sport since he was 29.
He had over 6,000 jumps to his credit.
A close friend of Bennett’s commented on the incident. Along with being his friend, Bill Scott also owns the skydiving company Bennett worked at. According to Bill Scott, Bennett “started in too low” while approaching the runway. “He just misjudged his turn from final approach to landing,” Scott said. Scott and Bennett met in 1993 and became instant friends. Scott owns Skydive Monroe at the Monroe-Walton County Airport. There were no reported equipment malfunctions or “missteps” of any sort.
According to Monroe police chief Keith Glass, fellow skydivers gave Bennett first aid until the emergency services arrived. Glass said that multiple agencies arrived at the scene of the accident. Scott was at the scene as well and assisted in giving aid to Bennett. “He was conscious, breathing, and aware,” Scott said. Bennett was airlifted from the scene of the crash and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
After approximately an hour after being airlifted, Bennett died as a result of his injuries at the hospital.
In an effort to assist with funeral expenses for his wife Judi and his family, a Go Fund Me page has been set up. It reads, “As all of you know, we lost a treasured soul yesterday. Joe Bennett, they myth, the man, the legend, made his last skydive. Funerals are expensive, as is the price of living through a tragedy of this magnitude.” The page was created on Sunday, June 11 by Nicole Moon Shaw. A goal is set for $25,000. So far the page has raised $4,905. This amount was donated by 72 people.
Various people have expressed their condolences on the page. The Go Fund Me page concludes, “His loss cuts deep and if we, his sky-family and friends, can ease some of the financial hardship for his wife, then we should do what we can. He would do the same for each and every one of us.” To honor his memory Scott had the flag at Monroe Skydive lowered to half-staff. In addition, Scott and others participated in skydive on Sunday to “honor” his memory. Scott said they went on a skydive because that is how they honor their friends.
“He was a good guy, skydiver, and friend,” Scott said.
In an unrelated incident, another man died skydiving this weekend. James Hansmann, 62, died on Sunday in Ellington Airport in Texas. According to officials, the cause of the accident was a parachute malfunction. He was airlifted to Hartford Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Hansmann is from Massachusetts and was a detective lieutenant with the Leyden Police Department. He was with the department since 2003.