Authorities investigating the deaths of veteran skydivers

PERRIS (CNS) – Authorities Friday are investigating the deaths of two veteran skydivers, one of them from San Diego, who were killed after their parachutes became entangled over Perris Valley Airport.

The deadly encounter, reported to Cal Fire at 3:36 p.m. on Thursday, appears to have happened somewhere between 200 and 300 feet in the air and apparently deflated both canopies. Neither man was able to reinflate his chute, and both fell to their deaths.

The victims were identified Thursday night by the Riverside coroner's office as Christopher David Stasky of San Diego and Patrick James McGowan Jr. of Menifee. Both were 42.

People administered CPR until firefighters arrived but both men were pronounced dead at the scene at 4 p.m., according to Cal Fire and the Riverside County Fire Department.

Perris police also responded to the scene.

Stasky was helping McGowan train parachute instructors for the Canadian military, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

McGowan was a longtime skydiving instructor who worked with Skydive Perris for almost two decades, and oversaw parachuting activities at the Perris airport, the newspaper reported.

Scott Smith, western regional director of the U.S. Parachute Association. told the newspaper that McGowan had more than 17,000 jumps.

There have been at least two other recent skydiving deaths in this area.

Nicole Hannan, a 41-year-old Australian, was killed in a skydiving accident on Feb. 28, after her backup chute failed to open. Hannan was an experienced skydiver with more than 1,000 jumps, according to an official at Perris Valley Skydiving.

On Dec. 26, 2010, Brooke Baum, 33, of Newport Beach was killed after her parachute failed to properly deploy, according to officials at Perris Valley Skydiving. Like Hannan, Baum was also an experienced jumper, as were the two men killed Thursday.

Thursday's tragedy was being investigated by the Perris police, the Riverside coroner, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.

Anyone with information about Thursday's accident was asked to call the Perris police at (951) 210-1000.

Categories: KUSI