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Police wants footage of experienced skydivers, female customer deaths in Queensland accident

The two male instructors, aged 34 and 35, and 54-year-old local woman were found dead at Mission Beach – several kilometres from the usual beach landing point

Police wants footage of experienced skydivers, female customer deaths in Queensland accident

The two male instructors, aged 34 and 35, and 54-year-old local woman were found dead at Mission Beach – several kilometres from the usual beach landing point

14 October 2017 Saturday 13:36
Police wants footage of experienced skydivers, female customer deaths in Queensland accident

Police hope mobile phone footage and witness accounts can help piece together the cause of a skydiving tragedy in north Queensland that killed two experienced instructors and a local mother-of-eight following a mid-air collision.

The two male instructors, aged 34 and 35, and 54-year-old local woman were found dead at Mission Beach – several kilometres from the usual beach landing point – just after 3pm on Friday.

The instructors have been identified as Peter Dawson and Toby Turner. Kerri Pike, a Mission Beach mother of eight, was jumping in a tandem dive, understood to have been given to her as a birthday gift from her family.

One instructor, who was jumping solo, was found in a backyard at Mission Beach, while the other instructor and Pike, who were jumping in a tandem dive, were found in a nearby tree, about 1.5km from the regular landing zone.

A police statement said: “Initial investigations indicate that a solo skydiver may have collided with tandem skydivers in mid-air with their parachutes failing to deploy correctly.”

A witness told the Cairns Post newspaper: “You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening. I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees and that was the last I saw. It wasn’t good to watch. I had my heart in my mouth.”

Queensland police has not named the trio, but the instructors have been identified on social media as Peter Dawson and Toby Turner.

“All we can say is that our beautiful boy died doing what he loved. Our hearts are broken, but we know that every tear we shed Peter was worth,” Liz Dawson wrote on Facebook.

It is understood members of Dawson’s family are travelling to Queensland on Saturday from Victoria.

Investigators have asked anyone with footage of the incident to contact them.

“We’re appealing for anyone that did witness or has some of kind of footage [of the incident] to come forward to police,” Senior Sergeant Peter Williamson said on Friday.

“It’s a horrific scene, an unfortunate scene and there’s going to be a lot of families very upset as a result of this,” he said.

“Any accident involving skydivers is not good for anyone.

“This will have a huge effect on tourism and everyone knows Mission Beach runs on tourism.”

Operating company Skydive Australia has indefinitely suspended its operations at Mission Beach while investigations into the incident continue.

“The company extends its deepest sympathies and heartfelt condolences to the individuals and families involved and the broader skydiving community,” it said in a statement.

Skydive Australia said the solo skydiver was a “highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps … the other two were jumping as a tandem pair: a highly experienced instructor and a customer”.

Queensland Police and the Australian Parachute Federation are investigating the tragedy. A report will be provided to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: 14.10.2017 13:53
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