A skydiving cameraman working for Queenstown tourist operation NZONE Skydive was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital with serious injuries after a skydiving accident near Jack’s Point yesterday.
Police southern district command centre senior sergeant Brian Benn said the 36-year-old Queenstown man was seriously injured after landing heavily.
He was taken to Lakes District Hospital in Frankton by ambulance before being transferred to Dunedin by helicopter.
NZONE Skydive business development manager Derek Melnick told the Otago Daily Times that a cameraman accompanying a group of customers on a skydive about 1pm suffered multiple injuries after a parachute “malfunction” caused him to impact heavily with the ground.
He was skydiving solo and no customers were involved in the incident, Mr Melnick said.
“He is one of our senior crew members, with a number of years’ experience.”
The company’s operations had been suspended.
Paramedics from two ambulances were seen treating the man for about 45 minutes in a paddock on private property only a few hundred metres from the company’s air strip and skydive landing zone near the Jack’s Point residential subdivision.
It is the first serious skydiving incident in the Queenstown Lakes district since 2012 when Italian skydiving photographer Antonino Arillotta died near Wanaka Airport after his main and reserve parachutes malfunctioned.
In January, 12 skydivers safely bailed out before a Skydive Taupo aircraft plunged into Lake Taupo, while in 2010, nine people died when a skydiving plane crashed soon after taking off from a Fox Glacier airfield.
NZONE celebrated 25 years in business in June. It claims to be the country’s first commercial skydiving operation, and has taken more than 250,000 customers on tandem jumps.
According to its website it employs more than 70 staff, and promotes its approach to safety as “second to none”.