Skydive Jump Death of Jonathan Bullar Ruled Accident by Fayette County Ilinois Coroner Jury Verdict, at Vandalia, IL.
VandaliaRadio.com reported the recent Coroner’s Jury Verdict below concerning Jonathan Bullar who was making his 9th parachute jump:
1/19/2011 - Skydivers death ruled accidental
The death of a 24-year old Missouri skydiver has been ruled accidental by a coroner’s jury. 24-year old Jonathon Bullar of Maryland Heights, Missouri was making his 9th jump at Archway Skydiving Center at the Vandalia Airport on October 9th when he fell to his death upon his parachute failing to properly deploy. During Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowens inquest last night, evidence of an equipment malfunction was presented as a loop on the Cypress or automatic deployment device was not ran through the guillotine cutter which allows for deployment of the reserve chute. Bullar was said by witnesses, who were spectators at the time of the accident, to be spinning and out of control as he approached the ground when the Cypress device fired at 790 feet and the chute was not able to fully inflate prior to Bullar striking the ground. After deliberating for about an hour, the coroners jury returned their finding of an accidental death due to testimony and evidence showing that Bullar was out of control during his descent and up until the moment of impact and that because of equipment failure, came to his death by the reserve parachute not properly deploying and inflating.
Below is the KMOV.com Story reporting on the Coroner's Jury Verdict:
Skydiving center owner made parachute
mistake, Maryland Heights man killed after jump
Posted on January 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Updated yesterday at 11:01 PM
(KMOV) – The Fayette County coroner’s investigation shows that the owner of Archway Skydiving Center in Vandalia made a mistake packing the emergency parachute of a 24-year-old man from Maryland Heights who jumped to his death in October.
A jury in Fayette County ruled that Jon Bullar’s October 2010 death was an accident.
The coroner says Bullar, who was jumping on his own, got disoriented and did not pull his main chute until he was 100 to 200 feet from the ground, which was too late for his chute to open properly.
However, his emergency chute should have opened properly.
The device acts much like a black box does on a plane. The device signaled for the emergency chute to open at 790 feet, but it was not packed correctly by the mater rigger, who is also the owner of Archway Skydiving.
The center is closed for the winter season, which might be why calls to Archway went unanswered.
A lawsuit was filed concerning the parachuting death of skydiver Jonathan Bullar, as reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, below:
Coroner, lawsuit say rigging failure had role in skydiver's death
BY TERRY HILLIG email@example.com 618-659-2075 | Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2011 10:30 pm
VANDALIA, Ill. • A safety device that might have saved a 24-year-old skydiver from a fatal fall last year in Vandalia was not properly rigged, according to the coroner who investigated the incident and a lawsuit by the victim's family.
Jonathan Bullar of Maryland Heights was killed on his third jump on Oct. 9 at Archway Skydiving Center, based at Vandalia Municipal Airport, about 65 miles northeast of St. Louis. Bullar had jumped eight or nine times prior to that day.
His parents filed suit on June 2 in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis, seeking damages from Archway, its owners and other defendants, alleging negligence and a lack of reasonable care. Each of 12 counts asks for compensation of more than $75,000.
Fayette County State's Attorney Stephen Friedel has been reviewing the circumstances for several months for possible criminal wrongdoing. He told a reporter Friday that he has not decided whether to take any action.
A Federal Aviation Administration investigation of the incident remains open, an agency spokeswoman said Friday.
Darrell Bullar, also of Maryland Heights, has described his late son as a motorcycle enthusiast who had participated in motocross events before taking up sky diving.
The younger Bullar jumped from an airplane that day at 6,500 feet, officials said. His main parachute did not open properly, and it appeared to some witnesses that he was spinning uncontrollably.
A reserve parachute designed to deploy in such an emergency was not properly assembled, Fayette County Coroner Bruce Bowen told the Post-Dispatch in a recent interview.
According to his investigation and testimony of experts at a coroner's inquest on Jan. 18, he said, the reserve chute uses a device to detect barometric pressure, speed and altitude to deploy automatically if there is trouble. The one on Bullar's equipment was called CYPRES, for cybernetic parachute release system.
At a preset altitude, an explosive charge fires a guillotine to cut a cord and release the reserve chute. But the cord to Bullar's chute was not threaded through the guillotine, Bowen explained, so when it fired at 790 feet, there was no cord to cut.
"When it failed, (Bullar) was doomed," Bowen said.
The coroner said regulations require that reserve chutes be packed by a master parachute rigger, the highest of three certification levels.
Bowen said that Jason Mark, who co-owns and operates Archway with Anita Wuertz, is the only master rigger there.
Mark was called to the witness stand at the inquest but invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination and declined to testify.
Mark "has a good safety record," Bowen said. "I believe he's about as safety-conscious as anyone in that business."
At the inquest, a coroner's jury ruled the death an accident.
Neither Mark nor Wuertz could be reached for comment.
Archway started in 1965 at Hunter Field, an airport in Sparta, Ill. It moved to Vandalia in the early 1990s and has been operated by Mark and Wuertz since 1999.
Bullar's death was the first under their ownership, although there were at least 10 fatal accidents under previous management.
Besides Archway, Mark and Wuertz, defendants in the suit are SSK Industries of Lebanon, Ohio; Airtec GmbH Safety Systems; the Vandalia Park District; and Vandalia Municipal Airport.
Airtec, a German company, is listed as the manufacturer of CYPRES equipment. SSK is listed as a U.S. marketing and service subsidiary.
Vandalia Park District Superintendent Gary Oldham said he first saw the complaint on Thursday and had no comment. None of the other defendants could be reached. The court file did not list a lawyer for the sky-diving business.
Among the lawsuit's allegations were that the equipment was inadequately rigged or inspected, the business failed to provide qualified personnel and Bullar was not provided with adequate preparation.
It also claims the CYPRES device is unreasonably dangerous because it does not detect whether the reserve cord has been properly routed through the cutter and because its display indicates successful activation even when it has not deployed the reserve chute.
A nonfatal accident at Archway in 1996 — when the business was operated by a man named Dave Verner — briefly attracted worldwide notice.
Sky diver Cary Hopwood survived extensive injuries after his main parachute failed to deploy and the reserve chute only partially deployed. Examination of the gear revealed that it had been sabotaged. Hopwood was using equipment borrowed from Kirk Verner, son of Dave Verner and one of the country's leading competitive sky divers. No one has ever been charged in that incident.
Police from Great Britain conferred with Fayette County authorities after British sky diver Stephen Hilder fell to his death in 2003 and it was found that his parachute had been damaged in ways similar to Hopwood's. Ultimately, however, British authorities concluded that Hilder's death was a suicide.