Tributes and heartfelt condolences have been flowing for the three people killed in a skydiving accident in far north Queensland, Australia.
The body of a skydiver was found in a residential yard in Mission Beach, about 110 kilometres south-east of Cairns, about 3pm (local time) on Friday. The bodies of a tandem skydiving pair were found nearby a short time later.
Police believe the solo skydiver may have collided with the tandem skydivers in mid-air, with their parachutes failing to open properly.
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Police described the scene as “horrific”, after finding the bodies of skydive instructors Peter Dawson, 35, and Toby Turner, 34, as well as local woman Kerri Pike, 54.
“Absolute tragedy! I had the pleasure of meeting Toby the night before my skydive and even asked him if he would do the dive with me as we spent the night drinking at the bar,” Ryan Crisp wrote on Facebook.
“But it was his day off so he couldn’t. You never know when your time is up so live your life to the full! Taken far too soon! RIP Toby!”
“Worst fears realised. Such a tragic loss,” Nichole Burke posted.
“(Mr Dawson) was a coworker … friend, martial arts student and all round good guy. Fly free dear friend.”
“Kerri was such a beautiful soul inside and out she would want everyone to be strong and rally around her much loved family and the loved ones of Dawson and Toby,” Patricia Thomas commented.
Emergency services have described the incident as “an accident”, with the Queensland Police Service leading the investigation and being assisted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Australian Parachute Federation.
“It’s a horrific scene, an unfortunate scene and there’s going to be a lot of families very upset as a result of this,” Senior Sergeant Peter Williamson said.
“Any accident involving skydivers is not good for anyone.
“This will have a huge effect on tourism and everyone knows Mission Beach runs on tourism.”
Police hope mobile phone footage will help investigations into what happened after the three victims came down about 1.5 kilometres away from the regular landing zone.
Investigators have asked anyone with footage of the incident to contact them.
“We’re appealing for anyone that did witness or has some of kind of footage to come forward to police,” Senior Sergeant Williamson said.
Operating company Skydive Australia on Friday said both instructors were experienced.
“One of the deceased, a highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps, was completing a solo jump,” they said in a statement.
“The other two were jumping as a tandem pair, a highly experienced instructor and a customer.”
The company has suspended skydiving operations at Mission Beach while investigations into the incident continue.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
– Brisbane Times/AAP