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Police: 1 Skydiver Dead, 1 Critically Hurt After Parachute Fails On Long Island

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CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A skydiving student was killed and an instructor was seriously injured on Long Island on Wednesday when their parachute failed to open.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, what was supposed to be a thrilling jump turned tragic. Around 4 p.m. Wednesday, two jumpers believed to be involved in a tandem jump at Skydive Long Island in Calverton somehow ended up in a free fall, police said.

The student was killed as the pair struck the ground. The instructor, who was positioned on top, survived the impact but is listed in critical condition after being airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

The instructor was in such poor condition that he did not yet know his student did not survive, Carlin reported.

Investigators late Wednesday would not say exactly what caused the fatal accident, but witnesses told police it appeared the parachute failed.

The divers’ identities have not been released.

Riverhead police were still on the scene late Wednesday night trying to figure out why the parachute failed. The Federal Aviation Administration also said it was investigating.

The runway and skydiving operation at Skydive Long Island were closed for the rest of the day.

Skydive Long Island is owned by Ray Maynard, 67. He released a statement expressing his condolences and vowing to work with the investigators with the FAA.

His company was in the headlines last summer when skydiving student Amber Gandolfo, on her first ever tandem jump, was left dangling from a 70 foot tree after suddenly violent winds sent her and her instructor way off course.

Back then, she spoke to CBS 2 about the ordeal.

“I just knew that if I was going to fall, it wasn’t going to be good,” Gandolfo said told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff last year. “Broken limbs, paralyzed … I was hanging on for dear life to the branches that I had in front of me.”

The United States Parachute Association estimates there are more than 3 million jumps each year. The organization says last year, there were 24 skydiving fatalities.

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