Witnesses put the collision altitude at around 150-200 feet, much too low to take any action. Both impacted hard. One jumper was pronounced dead at the scene, the other one shortly after being transported to a hospital. Both were described as experienced and conservative canopy pilots. Conditions were good and record participants were reported to be following plans set up to stagger landings and spread out over assigned landing areas. The unnerving part about this particular incident is that it was not a case of someone hot-dogging it through traffic or jockeying for spots by the beer line. Everything was set up well, executed well, and yet we two people collided and died.
Big-ways of that degree are certainly not your every day kind of jump. There are unique challenges and dangers, both in free fall, during break off and especially under canopy. Even with Skydive Arizona offering up the whole desert as a landing area, being in traffic with 200+ other canopies in the sky is hectic.
On the same jump, another jumper was taken to a hospital following a very hard landing. That jumper is expected to recover.
Names have not been released, pending notification of family. The news have reported that the jumpers were not American. We send our sincerest condolences to family and friends of the deceased skydivers. We hope that the rest of the big-way attempts will be safe and successful, building a beautiful tribute to the two.