Thrill-Seeking 73yo Man Dies in Skydiving Accident

( – A group of four friends jumped from a plane above the Arizona skies on January 31st during a group skydive, but only three made it safely to the ground.

Terry Gardner, 73, died after a malfunction with his parachute. Investigators say that even though Gardner’s chute opened, it did not fully deploy, and there were “complications” that caused Gardner to suffer a “hard landing.”

The tragedy occurred near Eloy, Arizona, which is south of Phoenix by about 70 miles. Gardner was on his third jump of the day when his luck ran out.

The Eloy Police Department issued a statement saying Gardner was with his three friends and the group was flying at 14,000 feet before the jump. They were set up to do a “formation jump”, but were unable to get into the proper configuration, though police say this did not directly affect Gardner and did not contribute to his death.

The other three jumpers landed safely, but Gardner experienced “unexpected complications” with his parachute and hit the ground too hard. The police statement noted that members of the Eloy Fire Department gave Gardner emergency medical treatment at the scene and took him to Casa Grande Banner Hospital, but for Gardner, it was too late.

Sara Curtis is the mayor of Eloy, and a skydiver herself. She says the town and the area around it are full of people who enjoy skydiving. Curtis told a local CBS affiliate that Gardner died doing what he loved the most and “pursuing his passions.” She offered her sorrow to Gardner’s family and friends.

Skydive Arizona, the company Gardner and his friends performed the jump with, said it started fine and there were no apparent problems. However, witnesses could see that Gardner’s chute had not fully deployed, they said.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, and part of that will include a thorough inspection of Gardner’s parachute and equipment.

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