Parachute School of Toronto 'stunned' after skydiver death

The president of a parachute school north of Toronto says his club is stunned after one of its skydivers died on Saturday.

Victim was trying to perform high-speed landing called 'swoop landing,' club president says

A plane is seen at the Parachute School of Toronto in Georgina, Ont. A man with the school was killed after a skydiving accident Saturday. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

The president of a parachute school north of Toronto says his club is stunned after one of its skydivers died on Saturday.

Adam Mabee, president of Parachute School of Toronto, said "everyone knows and respects" the victim, identified as 39-year-old Brad Vale. 

The Parachute School of Toronto is located in the town of Georgina, Ont., north of Toronto near Lake Simcoe. (Shannon Martin/CBC)

The incident happened in Georgina, Ont., north of Toronto near Lake Simcoe.

York Regional Police described the man as an "experienced skydiver" with more than 2,000 jumps.

It's unclear what happened, but police say the man's parachute did open.

A few hours after the fatal jump, Insp. Stu Betts told Global News that paramedics tried to work on the victim, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Sunday, Mabee wouldn't identify Vale by name, but said he was a member of the club for at least four years and was also an instructor.  

He died while doing a recreational jump.

'Swoop landing'

Mabee said he believes the victim was trying to do a type of high-speed landing called "swoop landing," something the man has performed many times before. 

Swoop landing involves the jumper touching down at speeds around 80 kilometres an hour, Mabee explained.

"As you can imagine, the margin for error is very small," he told CBC News.

Mabee added that the man was using a "high-performance parachute."

When asked if the club would consider banning the manoeuvre for safety reason, Mabee said it's unlikely the club would do so.

"This type of landing is performed by experienced jumpers at nearly every drop zone all around the world," he said.

This is the third skydiver associated with the Parachute School of Toronto who has died in the last year.

A 29-year-old woman was killed in May after a problem with her parachute. Mabee says the police and military experts were looking into what happened, but have so far not released the details of exactly what went wrong. 

A 42-year-old Etobicoke man died after an incident in July 2013. 

Mabee said there are always safety concerns in the sport. 

"There is no common thread between any of these accidents ... except skydiving itself," Mabee said, adding that all skydivers can do "is try and learn from these types of accidents."

John Gustafson, the spokesperson for the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association, told CBC News that this country tends to see about one skydiving-related fatality each year on average.

"The reality is: there is a certain amount of inherent risk to skydiving. From time to time, you will see fatalities and you will see injuries," he said in a telephone interview.

With files from the CBC's Matt Llewellyn and Shannon Martin