It seems counterintuitive: jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. But believe it or not, deaths involving skydivers are pretty rare in Nevada, due in large part to the extensive safety measures implemented by companies which provide this entertainment experience. Unfortunately, accidents sometimes do happen – and one such incident was reported this weekend in Clark County.
On Saturday morning, a plane took off from Jean Airport, which is about 30 miles south of Las Vegas on Interstate 15. A 51-year old skydiver jumped out of the plane at around 10,000 feet, and his parachute deployed normally. But according to reports, the man glided into a dust devil, which caused his chute to fold up when the skydiver was less than 100 feet from the ground. The man struck the ground at a high rate of speed and died of blunt-force trauma. The Clark County Coroner confirmed that equipment failure was not a factor in the skydiving accident.
The last reported skydiving death in southern Nevada was in October of last year, when a 75-year old woman and a 60-year old man died when their tandem parachute did not deploy properly. In cases like this, it is not uncommon for the surviving family members of the victim to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the company which operated the skydiving business.
But since this weekend’s death was caused by a weather phenomenon, it’s not clear whether such a suit would be successful in this case. A dust devil is like a mini-tornado that acts like a whirlwind and sweeps up dust as it moves.