Skydivers attempting complex manoeuvre before fatal accident
THE man left critically injured after a skydiving accident near Byron Bay that killed another skydiver has survived the night but is still facing life-threating injuries, the South Queensland Parachute Council has said.
Relaying messages from a relative on their Facebook page, the council last night said champion sky diver Michael Vaughan was going through surgery last night and it was not known if his injuries were survivable.
This morning the outlook was brighter.
"Michael has survived multiple simultaneous surgeries and is now in ICU," the relative said.
"He has many internal injuries that are in themselves life-threatening from the trauma of the impact.
"They are now putting a cooling blanket on him. This is their last method of treatment.
You are the person I look up to most in skydiving. You never treated us with disdain when we were just newbies and I always try to look after the new jumpers like you looked after us (although not nearly as well!)
- Message of support on Michael Vaughan's Facebook page
"We now pray he can last each minute and each hour such that they can do scans in the morning to see if there has been any improvement. Or at least, no worsening. (He hates being cold but I've told him to suck it up on this occasion)"
Mr Vaughan was running a week-long landings course for experienced skydivers at Tyagarah when his parachute and that of a woman in the course became tangled during a jump.
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The woman, whose name has not been released, passed away at the scene while Mr Vaughan was flown in the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter to the Gold Coast University Hospital.
The woman was also understood to be an experienced skydiver.
Newscorp has quoted Australian Parachute Foundation safety and training manager Richard McCooey saying Mr Vaughan's parachute and the woman's parachute opened normally, but close together.
"Their parachutes collided, and then what tends to happen is their parachutes become tangled," Newscorp quoted Mr McCooey saying.
"I'm really speculating because it's probably weeks away from knowing exactly what has happened but you may end up with each one only having half the air in it.
"That upsets the normal descent rate of the parachute and they descend faster than they are meant to ... they have impacted the ground very hard."
AAP is reporting the pair were believed to have been attempting 'docking' manoeuvre when their parachutes entangled.
"It's not a common activity within skydiving," AAP quoted Skydive the Beach chief executive Anthony Boucaut saying.
"The canopies dock on each other, they touch each other's parachutes.
"(The moves are) part of an internationally recognised competition."
The Australian Parachute Foundation is investigating the accident with its report to be handed to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Mr Vaughan's Facebook page has been flooded with messages of support.
"You are the person I look up to most in skydiving," one post said.
"You never treated us with disdain when we were just newbies and I always try to look after the new jumpers like you looked after us (although not nearly as well!)."