2 skydivers collide mid-air in Ottawa, knocking one unconscious

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OTTAWA, Ill. — Two licensed skydivers are expected to be OK after a mid-air collision in Ottawa Tuesday.

At about 11 a.m., fire officials responded to Skydive Chicago in the 3100 block of 1969th Street, which is near the Fox River.

A spokesman for Skydive Chicago confirmed the collision to WGN, saying that one of the divers was knocked unconscious. That person’s reserve parachute deployed, and they landed safely.

One skydiver landed back at Skydive Chicago while the other landed in the Fox River. The one who landed in the river floated there because of an automatic activation device, or an AAD.

Both of the skydivers were transported to an area hospital, and the spokesman said they are expected to be “fine.”

Rock Nelson, who owns Skydive Chicago, said the AAD is a safety device that’s optional, but said that smart people have them.

“It’s a computer device that measures barometric pressure and altitude,” he said. “If you fall at a certain speed at a certain altitude it will fire your device for you. It will open your reserve shoot. Your last chance.”

Nelson said while the mishap that happened Tuesday was rare, it can happen. The technique that went wrong in the sky? Nelson said the move is a traverse of sorts.

“Sometimes that traverse, it’s like being on a highway, if you go out of your lane there is the potential of running into the car next to you. I feel that might have been what happened on that jump,” he said.

Last year, 13 people died in parachute accidents, according to the United States Parachute Association. That was the lowest number in the sport’s history.


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