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Army parachutist dies after colliding with Navy counterpart at air show

Army parachutist dies after colliding with Navy counterpart at air show
A Navy Leap Frog parachutist receives medical attention on North Avenue Beach on Aug. 15, 2015, after a performance duringthe first day of the Chicago Air & Water Show. (Michael Noble Jr., Chicago Tribune)

A U.S. Army parachutist injured Saturday while performing in the Chicago Air & Water Show died Sunday afternoon, officials said.

Corey Hood, 31, a member of the Army Golden Knights parachute team, had collided with another parachutist Saturday and ended up striking a Lake Shore Drive high-rise on the Gold Coast before falling to the ground. He was taken in critical condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he had surgery to relieve pressure in his brain caused by a head injury, said Donna Dixon, a Golden Knights spokeswoman.

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Hood was pronounced dead at 4:05 p.m. at the hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

The other parachutist involved in the collision, a member of the Navy Leap Frogs parachute team, ended up landing on North Avenue Beach. He also was taken to Northwestern, where he was treated for a broken leg.

About 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 13 parachutists had jumped from an aircraft and formed a circle holding hands, a maneuver known as a "mass," Dixon said. The parachutists included one videographer, and members of the Golden Knights and the Navy Leap Frogs.

They held together for about 15 seconds before breaking apart in different directions, a move that looks like a "bomb burst" from the ground, with red smoke spraying from the parachutists, Dixon said.

At that point, it appears that a Golden Knight and a Leap Frog collided, she said. The investigation into why that happened is ongoing.

The rest of the show went on, but the two teams canceled their afternoon performances. Though both normally perform separately, Dixon said, they've jumped together numerous times without incident in recent years.

The jumps aren't without risk or occasional incident. Last month, a member of the Golden Knights team was taken to the hospital after a landing mishap in Wisconsin. In 2013, two Golden Knights were honored after risking their lives to save one another after their parachutes became entangled during a jump in Florida.

Before joining the team, parachutists go through an eight-week selection process, followed by a three-month training camp. Each team member performs thousands of jumps a year, Dixon said, and only the best perform at the Chicago Air & Water Show.

"One of our guys has jumped 17 years and nothing's happened," she said. "And then all the sudden, some oddity like this occurs."

A spokesman for the Navy Leap Frogs couldn't be reached for comment Saturday or Sunday.

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