The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

The Baez Law Firm | San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys
San Antonio Lawyers and Attorneys

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Problem with parachute during jump likely led to employee's death

(AP) Houston-An employee of a popular skydiving facility in Brazoria County was found dead Friday afternoon, apparently killed after his parachute malfunctioned during a jump earlier this week.

Scott Bell jumped alone in the last jump Wednesday but wasn't noticed as missing because he is the person who checks people in before they jump and accounts for them after they jump, said Houston attorney Lee McMillian, the legal adviser for Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon.
When the 35-year-old didn't return to the hangar Wednesday night, people assumed he had simply walked home. Bell lived in a trailer on the facility property.

When Bell didn't return to the facility for a staff meeting Thursday morning, other employees were concerned but thought he had gone to a girlfriend's house and simply missed the meeting, McMillian said.On Friday, a pilot noticed what looked like a parachute in tall grass about 200 yards beyond the facility's drop zone, McMillian said.

A Brazoria County deputy and employees of the facility found Bell's body in an area south of the zone.Preliminary indications are that Bell's main parachute failed and he deployed his reserve parachute too late, McMillian said, adding that the incident is being treated as an accident.
Bell's body was taken to the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, said agency spokesman Roland Herwig.

The agency regulates both the equipment and procedures of skydiving establishments, requiring that the reserve parachute be inspected and repacked every 120 days by an FAA-certified parachute rigger.Herwig was unsure when the parachutes at Skydive Spaceland were last inspected.

McMillian said Bell's equipment was last inspected in August.Bell's death is the first fatality at the facility, which opened in 1999, McMillian said.Bell joined Skydive Spaceland this spring, moving to Texas from Arizona, said employee Heather Robbins.Bell first lived in a tent on the facility grounds, Robbins said, then moved into a trailer when one became available.

McMillian said several mobile homes, as well as travel trailers, are on the facility grounds.
It's not uncommon, he said, for a skydiver to jump and land in front of his home.
Though at the facility for a short time, Bell was considered very popular, McMillian said. He described Bell as an experienced jumper, with 109 jumps under his belt.

"Everybody out here is pretty upset," said McMillian, himself a pilot and skydiver.
Robbins said Bell usually jumped about three to four times a month.
"Don't plan on being a part of this sport unless you're planning to lose someone you love," said Robbins, "and probably see it up front."

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1 comment:

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