A U.S. Navy’s elite skydiving demonstration parachutist fell dead while performing on Sunday after his parachute malfunctioned in a New York Harbor’s annual Fleet Week Festival aerial exhibition.
A coast guard personnel took the parachutist from the water near the Hudson River right after the tragic incident. There were thousands of spectators watching the show from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Rear Admiral Jack Scorby told a news conference outside the hospital that the skydiver, who was a Navy SEAL commando serving as a parachutist of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, died at the Jersey City Medical Center.
The parachutist’s identity was not revealed to the public until his family approves of revealing his identity.
Scorby said that the skydiver and other team members were supposed to jump into Liberty State Park but the skydiver’s “parachute failed to open properly and he landed in the water” near the park.
The admiral did not provide any further information about the reason behind the incident; however, he only said that the parachute “malfunctioned.” Eyewitnesses claimed that they saw the victim jumping from helicopters.
Bjoern Kils, 37, from Jersey City, who owns charter boats, was one of the spectators watching the event while he was on a boat when he witnessed three Leap Frogs jumping from a helicopter.
“Almost the same time that they touched down in Liberty State Park we heard a splash and turned around very quick. I saw the water splash, and apparently, there was a fourth parachutist,” said Kils.
Kils recalled that he saw emergency responders taking the parachutist from the water and attempting to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation. “He was just limp in the water,” he said.
Rich Collins, 59, a former banker, was also one of the spectators, recalled that he saw multiple parachutists jumping one with an American flag, then saw two others flying higher, “and one of them seemed not to have his chute.”