MOKULEIA (HawaiiNewsNow) - An experienced skydiver was killed Sunday morning when he was knocked unconscious in a midair collision with another skydiver.
The man was identified as Ash White, 40. He had worked with Skydive Hawaii at Dillingham Air field for about five months as a photographer, videographer and skydive instructor, and had previously worked for another local skydiving company.
"Ash loved skydiving," said Skydive Hawaii president Frank Hinshaw. "This was the first flight of the day. Ash was there. It wasn't a work jump, it was a fun jump, something we call a fun jump. So that's what he was doing, having fun."
But then, tragedy struck on the way down.
"During the free-fall portion of the jump, two of the jumpers collided with each other, rendering Ash White unconscious," said Hinshaw. "And he fell to his death from there."
Emergency crews were called shortly before 9 a.m. after White plummeted to the ground, unconscious.
"I saw him fall," Hinshaw said. "He was not in control of his body. He made no visible attempt, that I could see, to open his parachute. It's just a real sad, tragic situation."
White's body was found in an area with trees and brush on the mauka side of Farrington Highway, just outside the air field.
"I just heard people outside yelling and kinda running around," said Clyde Quiniones, who lives across Farrington Highway from the air field, and heard a commotion outside his home. "There was a whole bunch of them, about 20, 30 of them. So I came out and looked, and this guy was on his phone, walking up and down. I guess he called 911."
The other skydiver was able to open his chute and land. Hinshaw said he suffered lacerations around his face and head.
Both skydivers were wearing helmets. According to Hinshaw, there is another safety device that could have helped White.
"Ash was jumping without an automatic opening device," Hinshaw said. "That may have saved his life if he had had one. They're not required. Many experienced skydivers don't wear them. I recommend them."
White had made more than 12,500 jumps, while the other skydiver had made some 5,500 jumps, according to Hinshaw.
The last fatal accident involving Skydive Hawaii happened in October 2009.
Skydive Hawaii suspended its operations for the day out of respect for White, and also to conduct an investigation into what happened.