Cause of near-fatal Gatineau skydiving crash to be revealed next week

Quebec workplace safety investigators are expected to release the cause of a near-fatal skydiving crash that seriously injured two people last July. The report will issue recommendations, and the skydiving company could potentially face fines.

Instructor, 22, and 45-year-old client have since been released from hospital

GO Skydive instructor Carolyne Breton broke both of her legs after spiraling to the ground July 8, 2015. (Facebook)

Workplace safety investigators are set to reveal the cause of a near-fatal skydiving crash that seriously injured two people last summer in Gatineau, Que., as part of a final report that will also include recommendations and possible penalties.

On July 8, 2015, a skydiving instructor and customer were hospitalized after their parachute failed during a tandem jump. 

The 22-year-old instructor, Carolyne Breton, and her 45-year-old client, who was celebrating his birthday, spiraled to the ground using a reserve parachute.

After a lengthy investigation, Gatineau Police have now determined there was no criminal wrongdoing. 

The body in charge of workplace safety in Quebec has also spent the last nine months investigating the crash under its occupational health and safety act, and could lay fines against the company, GO Skydive. 

The final report is expected to be released on March 21.

Long, complicated investigation

It has taken longer than usual to complete the workplace safety investigation, according to Alain Trudel, spokesman for the province, because this is the first time the Quebec body has ever investigated a skydiving incident. 

A GoPro camera strapped to Breton's wrist captured the jump, but didn't reveal what exactly went wrong. Paramedics also cut the parachute while rescuing the skydivers, which affected the evidence.
Instructor Carolyne Breton, 22, has been active in the sport for three years and has skydived nearly 900 times, her employer says. (Facebook)

It also took extra time for workplace safety investigators to find an impartial expert to analyze the parachutes. 

A Canadian Forces expert in skydiving ended up conducting the analysis and those findings are expected on Monday along with several photographs of the equipment.

'Lucky to be alive'

Breton, an experienced skydiver with 900 jumps under her belt, broke both of her legs when she hit the ground. 

She has since been released from The Ottawa Hospital's rehabilitation centre and is recovering well, according to friends.
Friends say instructor Carolyne Breton has been released from hospital. (Facebook)

The 45-year-old customer suffered more serious injuries, according to police. He was in life-threatening condition at the time of the crash, but has improved and he has since been released.

"For him, it's going to be a long-term recovery," said Gatineau Police Sgt. Jean-Paul Lemay, who added "both are lucky to be alive."

GO Skydive could face fine

GO Skydive has already adopted safety recommendations issued by provincial officials, according to co-owner Martin Sévigny.

He could not offer further comment and he hasn't seen the final workplace safety report.

Breton's family has asked for privacy.

GO Skydive could face fines if it's found guilty of an offence under Quebec's occupational health and safety act. Fines range from $600 for a first time offence to more than $300,000 for a third or subsequent offence.

GO Skydive instructor Carolyne Breton jumping with other instructors. (Facebook)

About the Author

Ashley Burke

Ashley Burke is a video journalist for CBC News Ottawa. Have a story idea? Email her at ashley.burke@cbc.ca