Girl who wanted to celebrate 18th birthday by skydiving dies after parachute fails to open
The current suspicion is that the teen and her instructor's main parachute failed to open, and when they tried to deploy the emergency parachute, it also did not work properly.
A girl who wanted to celebrate her 18th birthday by skydiving met a tragic end after her parachute did not open during the 3000-meter (9,842 feet) jump. Also killed in the incident was her skydiving instructor, who was reportedly very experienced and had over 4,500 jumps to his name.
According to the Daily Mail, Vanessa Ivonne Melendez Cardenas had only recently turned 18 and decided to mark the occasion with a skydiving session over Tequequitengo, in Morelos, this past Sunday, March 24. Accompanying her on the jump was 34-year-old Mauricio Gutiérrez Castillo.
The horrifying moment when their parachute failed to deploy and they plunged to the ground at approximately a speed of 200 km/h was captured by an onlooker on the ground who seemed to have some association with the teen.
As the video begins, four other skydivers can be seen safely descending from the sky after deploying their parachute. However, in the background of the video, two people are falling to the ground at a rapid pace.
Unaware she and her instructor have been involved in a fatal accident, the man filming the video can be heard telling a girl he's accompanying that he hoped 'Liz' — perhaps referring to Cardenas — would also land safely along with the others. But a little while later, he realizes the teen is not amongst those who made it to the ground safely.
The Mexico Herald reported that around 3:43 pm the same day, company staff from the Albatroz Aviation Club — which was in charge of the skydiving operations — advised the authorities about the situation, prompting emergency and security personnel to launch a search for the pair.
Their bodies were located near the Mexico-Acapulco highway at the height of the deviation to Tehuixtla, and the Morelos Prosecutor's Office carried out the removal. The area was also cordoned off by the State Security Commission.
#AlMomento— InfoAgenda Morelos (@InfoAgenda_Mor) March 25, 2019
Hace unos minutos se reporto el fallecimiento de una pareja de paracaidistas quienes cayeron a una altura de 400 metros, hechos ocurridos en el municipio de @jojutla @juanangel_fb pic.twitter.com/oZpHxSzj0A
Albatroz insisted their deaths were not an "accident" caused by malfunctioning equipment and that it was the result of human error. "It wasn't equipment failure or anything like that," Jorge Gaitán, the company director, speculated.
"It surely had to do with someone who was on that flight, who manipulated and activated the release mechanism," he continued, adding, "That doesn't end up happening by accident: it is caused by a human. We are in those investigations. We still do not know what happened."
The current suspicion is that the couple's main parachute failed to open, and when they tried to deploy the emergency parachute, it did not work properly because it was opened less than 400 meters above the ground. Albatroz similarly said in their statement that the parachute's release was activated at an altitude where "it was impossible for the parachute to respond."
Watch the video of the accident here: