A German skydiver who was among 222 people trying to set a
world record with a group-formation jump was killed in the
Arizona desert when her main parachute malfunctioned.
The skydiver, identified by police as 46-year-old Diana Paris
of Berlin, was taking part in a first attempt to set the
record on Thursday morning (local time) when the mishap
occurred, organizers said. She was declared dead on the
"The malfunctioning parachute was released too low to allow
the reserve parachute to fully open," said Jocelyn
Bernatchez, a spokeswoman for SkyDive Arizona, the facility
about 65 miles (105 km) south of Phoenix in Eloy where the
event took place.
Bernatchez said the airplane involved had been functioning
properly, and that weather conditions in Eloy were good at
the time of the accident, which occurred at about 7:30 a.m.
The team of 222 veteran skydivers from 28 countries had come
to the popular U.S. facility to try to break a record for the
largest number of people to complete two aerial formations
before deploying their parachutes.
The previous record, involving 110 skydivers, was set last
year in Florida.
Organizers said safety was foremost in their minds in their
planning and execution of the complicated maneuver, an effort
that had been 18 months in the making.
Skydivers were to be at an altitude of about 19,500 feet
(6,000 meters) during the record-breaking attempt, with an
average free-fall speed of about 120 miles per hour (190
Under the plan, skydivers in multi-colored jumpsuits are
taken aloft by 10 planes and have 80 seconds to complete
kaleidoscope-like formations before opening their chutes.
RECORD QUEST CONTINUES
After the death, the team performed a special jump in Paris'
honor involving a maneuver called a missing man formation,
said Gulcin Gilbert, a spokeswoman for the World Team group
that organized the jump.
The team planned to continue trying throughout the day on
Friday, but with 221 skydivers instead of 222, she said.
"Our dear friend cannot and will not be replaced," she said
in a press release. "The group will continue to hold the slot
open in the skydiver's honor."
Police said the husband of the deceased skydiver told them
that she was an experienced jumper who had participated in
Eloy police spokesman Brian Jerome said in a statement the
incident was being investigated by police and the Federal
Aviation Administration, which would examine whether the
parachute did indeed malfunction.
Thursday's accident marked the third skydiving death since
December stemming from an attempt to break a record in the
In the same facility last December, two skydivers were killed
after colliding at a height of 200 to 300 feet (61 to 91
meters) and falling to the ground in what authorities ruled
Briton Keiron O'Rourke, 40, and Bernd Schmehl, 51, of
Germany, were part of a group of 200 skydivers from another
organization trying to break the double-formation record.