While jumping on a particularly cloudy day — more on that later! — these two skydivers with around 100 jumps each were excited to do a wagon wheel exit. They were rushing a bit, didn't even open the door all the way, and as the top jumper was setting up, they brushed their rig against the door. That popped the flap on their main, exposing the pin. Then, as they exited, he rubbed the pin against the door, releasing his d-bag. A moment later his pilot chute was pulled loose and led to a premature deployment around 12,000 feet. Everyone was okay and they both landed safely.
These relatively new jumpers were excited and openly admitted that they were rushing. They didn't check the spot — not that they would have seen anything through those clouds — and were busy setting up the wagon wheel in the door. By feeling like they had to get out the door as quickly as possible, they became careless and stopped paying attention to some rather basic exit considerations like opening the door fully and not rubbing their containers against the plane.
This piece of advice can probably apply to at least 50% of the incident write-ups we do for our Friday Freakout series, but it's particularly useful for newer jumpers who are still REALLY excited about doing their first horny gorilla, wagon wheel, etc. Take a breath and calm down! That one extra second in the door isn't going to affect the rest of the plane but it could prevent some pretty serious issues or malfunctions.
Some jumpers don't realize that, if you know you're going to need a few extra seconds to set up your exit, that you can communicate with the pilot to give you the green light a little bit prior to when they would normally turn it on. This is more typically done by larger belly groups which know that trying to put four people outside and three people inside the door is going to eat up the jump run. (Some freeflyers will deny that it actually happens, but we swear that good belly organizers do it, haha.) However, exits like a wagon wheel, a magic carpet ride, etc., require some time to set up, so it's not crazy to request a prior!
This jump is exactly why you shouldn't jump through clouds. Consider the following hypothetical: say that this jumper had their premature opening a little lower. Imagine the jumpers behind him couldn't see that his canopy had opened. And so they get out, have no reference to jump run because of the clouds, and end up coming down on top of him. That's a potentially fatal incident.
These jumpers shouldn't have exited. They had no idea where they were, had no idea what was happening below them, and were probably just trusting the pilot that they were in the right place. If there had been another aircraft or helicopter under those clouds, (it HAS happened before,) they would have been clueless. If the cloud layer is deeper than they thought, they might be forced to deploy their mains but not be able to see where their buddy went. If the pilot had bumped the light 2 miles early and they were over the ocean, they would have been clueless.
So, generally speaking, punching clouds is dangerous because they obstruct your view of the air space below you, obstruct your view of other jumpers around you, and obstruct the view of you by those who are above.
This also looks like a pretty blatant violation of Federal Aviation Regulations Part 105.17 which says that "No person may conduct a parachute operation, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft... into or through a cloud."