This skydiver's canopy opened up into some line twists, which came undone easily. However, they came undone so easily — and quickly — that the momentum led to more line twists in the other direction. The jumper's left arm, which had a Garmin watch under the sleeve, got caught in the new twists. With a diving canopy that he knew he wouldn't be able to fly, and an arm he couldn't pull out of the twists, he decided that his only option was to cutaway from the main. He did so — breaking his arm in the process (radius bone on the forearm) — but his RSL deployed his reserve and he landed safely.
One rigger who we consulted on this video suggested that the initial line twists were likely created by a packing error. Even the jumper pointed out that, in the slow motion version of the video, it's visible that the risers are uneven on deployment. However, as is the case in every line twist video, without seeing the actual deployment process it's almost impossible to tell definitively what the cause was. Either way, the line twists aren't the main focus of this analysis.
We've said it before, and we're sure we will say it again on a regular basis up until the moment that Bill Booth patents the self-packing parachute: While packing, you need to take your time, focus on the task at hand, and do it right. This goes doubly for packing high performance canopies which tend to open in a far less docile manner and can quickly decide to go into a dive while you're trying to get out of line twists.
While an altimeter is highly recommended (read: necessity), consider not wearing extra gear like Garmin watches or fitness trackers, which can get caught in your equipment. Had this jumper not been wearing a watch under his left arm, it's possible that he would have been able to get his arm out of his risers. Further, as we'll note below, any gear that is attached to your arms increases the likelihood of a snag or a — *gulp* — degloving injury. This includes silicone rings! While they're certainly safer than metal rings, even silicone rings — if caught in a fast and forceful manner — can result in a snag and degloving.
This jumper broke his arm due to this incident (radius bone on the forearm). If that's the case, he got lucky to have not suffered a far more severe injury: degloving. The name suggests what happens but, the simple version is that when a limb is wrapped by a riser/line/bridle and the parachute to which it's connected goes one way, while the jumper's body goes another way, the flesh on that limb is ripped off. (These types of injuries are more common among military static-line jumpers, where putting out 64 troopers out of a C-130 in a minute or two results in static lines bouncing around and sometimes wrapping themselves around a wrist.) This jumper was lucky that's not what happened when he chopped.
This was a bad situation and once this jumper's hand was stuck in those risers he had very few good options. Chopping could have ripped the flesh off his arm, but there was no way he was going to be able to land that canopy. He did what he had to do. However, we still expect that someone viewing this video will bring up another option that may have been available to this jumper: his trusty hook knife.
We admit that, if he had time, cutting the risers on his main to free his hand could have mitigated the risk of the aforementioned potential of a degloving injury. However, diving canopies with line twists burn through altitude very quickly and this jumper was likely in a better position to decide if he had time to try that option. At the end of the day, he did what he had to do to survive, and we're glad he did.