Teen Skydiving For First Time Dies Along With Instructor After Chutes Fail To Open
A teenager skydiving for the first time to celebrate graduating high school died alongside her instructor over the weekend.
Jeanna Triplicata, 18, from Newnan, Georgia, had gone with her family to Skydive Atlanta in Thomaston on Sunday, July 12, to experience a tandem jump for the first time.
However, both she and her 35-year-old instructor Nick Esposito died when something went wrong with the parachute and it failed to open. The emergency parachute also failed to deploy properly.
The 18-year-old had gone skydiving with her grandmother, 60-year-old Renee Sands, who was the first tandem jumper off the plane. When Sands landed on the ground, she couldn’t wait to catch up with Jeanna to swap stories of their experiences.
Jeanna’s entire family – her parents, grandma, brother, nine-year-old sister and her sister’s friend – waited for her on the ground but it seemed to be taking too long for her to come down, her dad, Joey Triplicata, told CNN.
When they hadn’t heard anything for a long time, Triplicata said they started to panic. Then, they heard someone say they had seen police lights. ‘We get in the van and we just race across the airfield. We had to cross over the runway, and we didn’t really care,’ he said.
Initially, her father assumed she had just hurt her ankle or something during the landing. ‘You know, this is safe. This doesn’t happen,’ he thought. But as they approached the field, a sheriff deputy told them it ‘didn’t look good’. ‘That’s when we lost it,’ her dad said.
Jeanna and instructor Nick Esposito were pronounced dead on the scene, Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore said in a statement provided to CNN. The sheriff’s office is currently investigating the accident.
‘Upon exiting the aircraft, the primary parachute failed to open properly and went into a spin,’ Kilgore said in the statement, adding that the emergency parachute deployed at a very low altitude but it never fully opened.
The sheriff said Esposito was an experienced skydiver and an employee of Skydive Atlanta, based at the Thomaston-Upson County Airport, approximately 60 miles south of Atlanta.
Dad Joey described the pain as ‘unbearable’, adding:
We were all so looking forward to after she landed and to talk to her and hear her story. I feel like we were robbed of that and now we’re robbed of the rest of her life. It’s so painful.
She was very family-oriented, and she wanted to do the right things in life. She wasn’t a rule breaker. When we bought her first car, she didn’t want anything flashy or that would stand out.
She wanted to just see how things look up in the air that high. She had never experienced that. It was a lot of first times for her and it was supposed to be a great, great day and it turned out to be the worst day of our lives.
I hate that this tragedy is the reason why people are going to learn more about her and her life. The tragedy has happened and at this point, we just want Jeanna to be remembered as the person she was, which was a wonderful young lady.
Triplicata said he is hoping for answers as authorities investigate, stating: ‘I hope and pray that we will eventually know what happened. I want this never to happen again… so a parent, husband, a wife, a daughter will never have to go through this again.’
In a statement, Skydive Atlanta said it was working with authorities and the FAA to investigate what happened, with its owner, Trey Holladay, stating: ‘Our community is devastated for both our team member and the student and their respective families.’
The Triplicata family plans to bury their daughter tomorrow, July 18, after a public service in their hometown of Newnan. They have created a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the funeral.
Our thoughts are with Jeanna’s loved ones at this difficult time. Rest in peace.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.