Skydiver in fatal Washington Township accident identified

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April 21, 2014 11:19:46 AM PDT
Police have identified the skydiver who died after an accident in Washington Township, New Jersey.

Authorities say 49-year-old Arkady Shenker of Brooklyn, N.Y. died of his injuries at Kennedy Hospital Sunday afternoon.

The Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office says Shenker was an experienced diver, who had jumped hundreds of times. In his final dive authorities say he was wearing a specialized outfit called a wing suit, which allows a skydiver to move forward while descending.

It remains unclear if his parachute opened properly. An official cause of the accident has not been determined.

Shenker joined 15 others in a plane operated by Freefall Adventures Skydiving School that left from the Crosskeys Airport. It was the fourth group to depart.

The popular company had no comment Sunday. According to its website, the company has been in business 25 years.

"Our skydives are made from 13,500 feet, 35% higher than our competition," reads a statement on the site.

At around 2:10 p.m. Sunday, the Dye family of Washington Township was holding their annual Easter egg hunt when they noticed the usual sight of the skydivers.

"I saw the jumpers. Then I noticed one, and he kind of looked like he was conscious. He was just spinning," Annie Marie Dye said.

Authorities say Shenker fell into a nearby backyard at Cross Keys Bypass and Tuckahoe Road.

Neighbors rushed to help. They say he did not appear conscious, but he was breathing.

"We all started running to see what we could do to help him," Lamont Dye said.

Paramedics rushed the skydiver to the hospital.

Washington Township police secured the scene where the parachute and harness remained for most of the day.

The accident is not the first involving Freefall Adventures.

In 2011, Scott Shields, the mayor of Rutledge, Delaware County, died while parachuting during a flight from the same Gloucester County company. Shields was an experienced jumper.

Then in Novemeber of 2012 a skydiver's parachute got caught in a tree, but the individual kept falling and was killed.

Just two hours after Sunday's accident you could see parachutes back up in the air.

The investigation is being handled by the Washington Township Police Department and the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office.

The FAA is also investigating.


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