Investigators have recovered an emergency chute at the scene of Sunday’s skydiving accident that killed an Air Force Academy cadet, but are still hunting for the primary parachute, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said. That’s an indication the jumper might have had a problem with the primary chute and jettisoned it before deploying the emergency canopy.
Kaleb Estes, a veteran skydiver who had made more than 500 jumps, was using his own gear, said Jacqueline Kirby, sheriff’s office spokeswoman.
Deputies were called to a field near the headquarters of Out of the Blue Skydiving just before 1 p.m. Sunday where a parachutist later identified as Estes had a “hard landing,” the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office reported.
Estes was not a member of the academy’s famed parachuting team. Most cadets, though, are trained in parachuting at the school. Cadets, with permission from their commanders, can join in off-base parachuting. Estes had filled out paperwork for civilian jumps and had permission, academy officials said.
Out of the Blue issued a statement Monday saying it is cooperating with an investigation into Estes’ death. “With heavy hearts, we can confirm that an experienced skydiver passed away yesterday afternoon while participating in a solo jump at Out of The Blue Skydiving,” Kendra Boysen with Out of the Blue said in an email to The Gazette. “We are working with the FAA and other authorities to investigate the cause of this tragic accident. Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it is investigating the incident but had no immediate comment on what might have caused Estes’ death