Expert skydiver Kenneth Ryan Bernek sadly fell to his death during a jump in Michigan recently and hit a pedestrian on his way down. The method of flying, called "high performance canopy flight," entails trying to fly close to the ground at maximum speed for a long distance before landing. And before Bernek hit the ground, he collided into a woman who was walking just outside the landing zone. The woman was taken to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries, but Bernek tragically was killed.
According to Randy Allison, the manager of Midwest Freefall Sport Parachute Club, where the fatal dive occurred, "The dive that he executed was a little too low and as a result he impacted the ground prematurely." Apparently, the rest of the load went up 14,000 feet above ground for standard skydive jumps, but Bernek got out at 5,000 feet to work on the dangerous jump. "This type of accident is pretty rare," the Assistant Fire Chief said. "They run a pretty good club over there. But anytime you’re jumping out of an airplane at 13,000 feet, you’re taking a risk."
What happened to Bernek is incredibly tragic, but thank goodness the innocent bystander he hit is fine. Could you imagine if she -- a person who was simply walking -- were killed, as well? It doesn't make Bernek's death any less awful, but it would have been twice as heartbreaking if a person died for doing something as completely innocent as being outside.
Thoughts and prayers to Bernek's friends and family. Hopefully, something like this will never, ever happen again.
Have you ever been skydiving?
Image via Wolfgang Deuter/Corbis