British Columbia

B.C. skydiver crashes after main parachute fails and backup gets tangled

The 39-year-old Kelowna man broke his pelvis in the accident.

Kelowna man, 39, broke pelvis in accident

Jeff O'Neill, 39, broke his pelvis in a skydiving accident in Salmon Arm on Sunday. (Skydive Salmon Arm)

An experienced B.C. skydiver crashed during a jump on Sunday, after his parachute failed and his backup became tangled.

Jeff O'Neill, 39, was in the middle of a solo jump with Skydive Salmon Arm when his main parachute didn't deploy properly. He had a reserve chute to slow his fall, but it, somehow, got tangled with the first.

O'Neill broke his pelvis in the crash and was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital.

Rick Scott, who owns Skydive Salmon Arm, said it's very unusual for backup chutes to become tangled.

"That doesn't happen," he said.

Scott said O'Neill is a certified "rigger," meaning he's trained to pack, maintain and repair parachutes. He also has more than 700 successful jumps under his belt.

O'Neill pictured in a 2016 jump. (Facebook)

The accident is the second during Skydive Salmon Arm's six years in business, with the first resulting in a broken ankle.

Scott said "minor scuffs and scrapes" are fairly common in skydiving, but reiterated that major crashes are extremely rare. 

"Your drive to work today was statistically more dangerous," he said.

O'Neill's crash happened during the last jump of the last day of the season for the skydive centre, which closed for the season this week.