A Canadian sky diver who plummeted to his death in Perris miscalculated a move while performing a highly risky maneuver referred to as “swooping.”
Michael Ungar, 32, of Ontario died Tuesday afternoon after he crashed into a pond at the Perris Valley Skydiving facility in Riverside County.
Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, manager of Perris Valley Skydiving, said the experienced sky diver was performing a high-speed parachuting trick that requires deploying the parachute at the start of the jump and then building up speed as he descends from the plane.
The goal is to level off a few feet off the ground, Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
Sky divers reach speeds of up to 50 mph as they jump from the plane, but they gradually slow down, he said.
At the Perris facility, many sky divers practice over the water and “drag a foot in the pond to show you they are low,” Brodsky-Chenfeld said. The water provides an extra layer of protection in case of a mishap.
“It’s softer than the ground but not that soft if you hit it at a high speed,” he said.
Ungar, a licensed instructor who had made more than 2,000 jumps, had successfully performed the maneuver several times earlier that day, Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
Ungar’s parachute was inflated at the time at the accident.
“He was a confident sky diver who made a big mistake too close to the ground,” Brodsky-Chenfeld said.
Every year, more 140,000 jumps occur at Perris Valley Skydiving, one of the more active of 140 drop zones in the United States. This is the 14th death at the Perris facility since 2000, and the fifth this year.