'You knew no-one could survive that' - witness recounts fatal skydiving crash

A witness to a skydiving accident in Mount Maunganui says it looked like the parachute was folded up as the young man came down to earth.
Theo Williams, 21, died on the way to hospital after skydiving near Kittyhawk Way on Saturday morning.

A witness to the accident, Maree Conayne, said she thought Williams parachute was folded up, and he was coming down way too fast.

We had just watched a couple of others come down before him, and they came in slowly.

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His was definitely coming down as if he was free-falling.

The noise was so loud, you knew no-one could survive that.

She said Williams wasn't moving and another instructor ran over to him, with an airport fire engine not far behind.

They quickly came over and straight away started CPR.

They kept swapping [and] didnt give up until the fire, ambulances and police turned up and took over.

She said Williams was then put on a stretcher while people were still doing CPR on him before the ambulance sped off.

We heard shortly after he hadnt made it.

Conayne said the emergency services did an amazing job, as did the instructor who was on his own with him at the beginning.

I wish I could have hugged him, as being a mum of four you just want them to be okay.

Its something that will stay in my mind.

On social media friends paid tribute to Williams, sharing their shock at his death.

You lived your life by having the best adventure you could, and I hope that your adventure never ends, one person said.

In a statement, Tauranga Skydive chief executive Donnie Banez said the company was saddened by the accident.

Williams was an experienced, single sports skydiver who was completing a solo jump, Banez said.

After a normal free fall and safe parachute opening, the sports skydiver suffered injuries upon landing.

All information has been passed on to the appropriate authorities, Banez said.

He is a valued anggota of our skydiving family, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

We have organised ongoing support for our team, and a private karakia was held to honour his memory.

The New Zealand Parachute Industry Association safety director Stuart Bean said the matter would be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The NZPA offer condolences to the family and friends of the person involved and will assist the CAA in any way requested of us.


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