New York Harbor’s annual Fleet Week festival was marred by the accidental death of a parachutist during an aerial exhibition on Sunday when his chute malfunctioned.
A member of the Navy SEALs commando unit that operates under the Naval Special Warfare Command, the skydiver was pulled from the waters of Morris Canal right after the accident occurred. The Navy SEAL was pronounced dead at the Jersey City Medical Center.
Reportedly, when the Navy SEAL realized his chute was broken, he cut himself free from the chute so he would fall into the river.
The free-fall was witnessed by thousands of spectators who were watching the show from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Spectator Aaron Moss captured on video a piece of the parachute falling down after the soldier, whose identity has not yet been released, separated from his chute and landed in the water.
— Stacey Sager (@staceysager7) May 28, 2017
Every year at this time, dozens of US warships and thousands of service members converge upon the New York City area to showcase their talents. Demonstrations by the US Navy Parachute Team, known as the Leap Frogs, are always an anticipated part of the festivities.
Sanctioned by the Defense Department, the Leap Frogs are comprised of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen and support personnel.
According to once spectator who was watching the performance from a boat, he saw three Leap Frogs jump from a helicopter, complete their aerial maneuvers and land. “Almost the same time that they touched down in Liberty State Park, we heard a splash and turned around very quick. I saw the water splash, and apparently there was a fourth parachutist,’ said charter boat operator Bjoern Kils, 37, of Jersey City. “We’re not sure where he came from. We didn’t see him exit the same helicopter and apparently the chute did not deploy.’
Kils recalled seeing emergency responders retrieve the fallen SEAL. “They pulled him out of the water and started doing chest compressions,” he said. “He was just limp in the water.”
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