A mid-air collision is believed to have caused the death of three skydivers in north Queensland.
It’s understood one of the victims was found in a backyard at Mission Beach while the other two were found in a nearby tree, about 1.5 kilometres from the regular landing zone.
The ABC reported that police believed the two men who died, aged 34 and 35, worked for the skydiving company and were both highly experienced skydivers.
The woman, aged 54, was understood to be a local, paying customer.
Police believe the solo skydiver may have collided with the tandem skydivers in mid-air, with their parachutes failing to open properly.
An eyewitness told The Cairns Post newspaper he could do nothing as he watched the incident unfold on Friday afternoon.
“You could see one chute was tangled and it wasn’t opening,” said the unnamed man.
“I was just watching him in free fall until he went behind the trees, and that was the last I saw.
“It wasn’t good to watch. I had my heart in my mouth.”
Senior Sergeant Peter Williamson said the police were still investigating the incident and appealed for any witnesses.
“Naturally, any accident involving skydivers is not good for anyone,” he said.
“It’s a horrific scene, it’s an unfortunate scene and there’s going to be a lot of families very upset as a result of this”.
Queensland Ambulance Service’s Neil Noble said paramedics were called out just after 3pm.
“We had a report of a skydiver who had been found in the garden at a residence in Mission Beach,” he said.
“Shortly thereafter we received another report of another two skydivers that had been found close by.”
The skydiving company, Skydiving Australia, released a statement saying it extended its deepest sympathies to “the individuals and families involved and the broader skydiving community”.
“One of the deceased, a highly experienced instructor who had completed thousands of jumps, was completing a solo jump,” the statement said.
“The other two were jumping as a tandem pair, a highly experienced instructor and a customer.
“Skydiving operations have been suspended at Mission Beach while the appropriate authorities conduct an extensive investigation.”
Brad Turner from the Australian Parachuting Federation said an investigator from the organisation was already in Mission Beach assisting.
“At what stage they collided, we don’t know,” he said.
Mission Beach, located between Cairns and Townsville, is a regular skydiving spot for tourists.
– with ABC and AAP