54-year-old skydiver dies during business' grand opening event
OTTAWA, Kan. - A devastating finale to a skydiving show took place Saturday night in Franklin County, Kansas, as a jumper fell to his death during an event for a business opening in Ottawa.
Investigators say the victim was 54 years old, and was a very experienced skydiver.
Terry Barnes, who has lived a mile away from the Ottawa Airport for most of his life, said planes are a normal sound for him to hear from his home.
"We were having a garage sale yesterday and we heard planes fly by," said Barnes. "Then a lady attending the garage sale said 'oh look over here.'"
He started to notice people jumping out of the planes. People nearby say they looked to be professionals, doing stunts and twists out of the planes.
"I thought well oh that's kind of strange, the first time that's ever happened," said Barnes. "It was neat watching them. Something you don't see every day."
Barnes says it went on for about seven hours, with several divers jumping into a field located behind his house. But then he started to hear another noise; the sound of an emergency.
"We heard an ambulance go by, it was kind of funny because I told my daughter, 'I hope that's not involving the skydivers,'" he said.
However it was. Investigators were called out when a 54-year-old skydiver didn't land in this designated drop zone. Soon after, they found his body about a mile east from the drop zone.
"It's tragic," said Barnes.
The victim was skydiving as a part of a show for the grand opening of the Kansas Drop Zone; a new business that just got up and running in Ottawa.
The business posted on its Facebook page that the victim's main parachute didn't open, and that it was his second jump of the day.
"It's a new business moving in, kind of a bad way to start a business. Somebody dies. I'm sorry for the gentleman," said Barnes.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Department continues to look into this, the FAA has also joined the investigation. Police have yet to release the identity of the victim.
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