A skydiving instructor maneuvering into a position to rescue a student in distress has died. The instructor, Carl Marsh, was attempting to assist student Dominic Leeds whose chute had failed to deploy during a jump. Mr. Leed’s equipment suffered a mishap which led to Carl Marsh falling 1600 feet. The incident occurred last year at the Black Knights Parachute Center. The drop zone was holding a training day for tandem skydiving.
According to reports, the instructor was moving in to deploy Mr. Leed’s reserve chute when he became entangled with Dominic’s main chute as it was discharged.
Mr. Marsh, 46 and a father, was a certified skydiver from Cheshire county in Northwest England. He had successfully completed more than 1100 jumps at locations all across the globe.
Accounts of the incident indicated that the pair had jumped at roughly 8,000 feet above ground level. When Mr. Leeds attempted to deploy his chute, a toggle malfunctioned and the parachute failed to release. Leed’s reiterated the event saying, “I reached up to deploy the left-hand steering toggle but as I pulled the toggle down the left toggle came off.” It was at this stage that Carl moved in to assist him.
Marsh negotiated his fall rate to dock on Leed’s canopy at which time he told the student to perform a “cut away” to discard the failed chute. According to Leeds, when he executed the cutaway, his main chute wrapped around the instructor’s legs. The student stated that he turned back to see Carl Marsh spiraling away with the jettisoned chute wrapped around the bottom of his legs.
A formal inquest into the incident concluded that as a result of becoming entangled, Mr. Marsh was thrown into a catastrophic spin which resulted in unconsciousness. Thus, Mr. Marsh was unable to recover and subsequently experienced fatal injuries leading to death at the scene.
The inquest further indicated that in testament to his strength of character, Carl Marsh deliberately put himself in harm’s way to help another.
Regarding the toggle, experts with The British Parachute Organization have said that over time, knots in equipment come loose which may have ultimately led to the toggle malfunctioning. They have also insinuated that it would be easy to overlook during the packing of the chute.
For those who undertake skydiving as a recreation, the risk is inherent when executing any sport at thousands of feet above the ground. Generally speaking, when performed in accordance with protocols and with equipment in compliance with skydiving safety standards and functioning properly, skydiving can be a fun, safe and exciting sport or hobby.
Of Carl Marsh, his 19-year-old son has said, “He was the best dad I could have had – he did everything for me. He was always looking out for others and always put other people first before himself.”
In a statement, family members said that he was well loved by all and his loss has left a massive hole in their lives and they aren’t sure how to go on without him.
The statement further read that, “Carl was an inspiration to us all and his zest for life was demonstrated every day in his love for his family, his strong work ethic, and his happy personality.”