An Army parachutist accident broke one skydiver’s leg and fatally injured another during an air show in Chicago over the weekend. Corey Hood, 32, a Sergeant First Class with the United States Army and a member of the Army Golden Knights aerial parachute demonstration team, died on Sunday from injuries sustained in a mid-air parachute collision. Hood collided with a Navy skydiver on Saturday in the air as they performed a bomb burst maneuver at the Chicago Air and Water Show, according to to CNN on Monday.
The Chicago Air and Water Show is held every year in Cook County on the shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. On August 15, the Army Golden Knights and Navy Leap Frogs performed together in a double parachute jump over Lake Michigan. After the teams jumped, the parachutists linked together in a circular formation for a few seconds before separating and free falling to the ground in different directions with red smoke trailing behind them. According to witness and video accounts of the fatal parachutist accident, Hood collided with a member of the Navy Leap Frogs during the free fall.
Even though the parachutists collided over the Lake Michigan shoreline, Hood reportedly floated towards nearby apartment buildings, striking the top of one building with his legs. Hood appeared to be unconscious as he hit the building. One witness, Heather Mendenhall, said she thought Hood was going to land on her apartment building, but instead his legs clipped the top of the building and then he fell over 20 stories to the ground. Daniel McSweeney, another eyewitness, said that Hood was “coming in really low and motionless, or lifeless” as he approached the top of the building. McSweeney and his girlfriend actually thought what they saw was part of the show. Hood’s emergency chute was visible, but according to McSweeney, he didn’t know what that meant at the time.
Hood survived five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan but was not able to survive Saturday’s jump, even though he had logged nearly 600 successful free fall jumps over the last five years. The elite and experienced parachutist from Cincinnati, Ohio was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago after landing on the pavement just below the North Lake Shore Drive apartment building. Hood then underwent surgery to relieve pressure on his brain but died on Sunday afternoon from the injuries he sustained in Saturday’s parachutist accident. Said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Sergeant Hood is an American hero, having dedicated nearly half his life in service to our nation.”
The parachutist who collided with Hood, an unnamed Navy Leap Frog, landed on the North Avenue Beach with a broken leg. He was treated and released from the hospital on Saturday. The Chicago Air and Water Show continued on Sunday, but the Army Golden Knights and Navy Leap Frogs chose not to perform. Commander of the Army Golden Knights parachute team, Lt. Col. Matthew Weinrich, told the Chicago Tribune that their main focus now is not on parachuting, but rather on supporting Hood’s family and grieving for a team member. Unknown is why the mid-air collission occured, but an investigation is underway.