Friday Freakout: High-Speed Premature Opening Rips Skydiver’s Container + Reserve Parachute Entanglement

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

This might be one of the craziest premature openings we’ve ever seen! This skydiver had a snappy premature opening while flying feet-first on an angle jump, which resulted in his container actually ripping, flipping over his back and hitting him in the face.

It’s hard to see what was happening after he cut away, but he thinks his reserve entangled with the main canopy. Not being able to look up, he said he “tried to rip and tear with (his) hands everything that was behind (his) head to try at least partly open reserve.” He didn’t follow his emergency procedures to pull his reserve handle, but he had an RSSL and fortunately the reserve finally deployed, and he landed safely with minor injuries.

You can see the damage that was done to the container near the end of the video. It’s crazy to see how powerful a high-speed premature opening can be and he’s so lucky to be alive.

Why did it happen

Improper Gear

This individual was not using freefly-friendly gear and believes that was the cause of this incident. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this and, unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last.

Incorrect Procedures

The jumper was the first to admit that they should have pulled their reserve handle after cutting away regardless of whether they had an RSL or not. They believe that relying on their RSL contributed to the mess they had behind their head.

How could it be prevented

Gear Choices / Jump Choices

If you’re going to freefly, you should have gear for freeflying. If the gear you have isn’t appropriate or safe for a particular type of jump, you should sit that one out.

Calm Down

This jumper freaked out a bit (understandable, given the circumstances involved) and didn’t follow his emergency procedures. It doesn’t matter if you have an RSL/MARD/Skyhook/whatever; if you’re pulling your cutaway handle, you should be pulling your reserve handle as well.

Additional Notes

Medical Perspective

The speed of the deployment is so fast that their container actually rips and flips over their back and slams into their face. It was initially suspected that this individual had fractured some vertebrae. Thankfully, that was not the case and he only had soft tissue damage. But these jumpers were flying feet-first and going fast; at those speeds a premature opening like this can cause serious damage due to deceleration forces. Injuries that can happen due to this type of premie can be very serious and potentially fatal.

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