Renowned Skydiver Killed in Freak Mid-Air Collision

A world renowned skydiver, who had jumped around 20,000 times before, died in a freak mid-air collision with another person on Sunday.

Witnesses described how Carl Daugherty, 76, who was out for a jump with seven others in DeLand, Florida, had collided with another skydiver when they both had their parachutes open, NBC affiliate, WESH 2 News reported.

After the brief entanglement, the unnamed person Daugherty collided with was able to regain control of their parachute. But Daugherty was unable to regain control of his and he fell from 500 feet, landing in the parking lot at DeLand Municipal Airport in Volusia County.

People rushed to try to save his life but he died from his injuries at the scene. "There were a bunch of witnesses who saw it and credit to them for rushing to him and trying to save them," said City of DeLand spokesman Chris Graham, according to Fox 35.

Fatal accident mid air claims the life of world renowned sky diver Carl Daugherty at age 76. He worked at Skydive Deland but was jumping there with friends for fun Sunday. Details on tragedy coming up @WESH 4pm. Pic courtesy @growingbolder pic.twitter.com/ONeEejiFGE

— claire metz (@clairemetzwesh) May 17, 2021

Bob Hallett, owner of Skydive DeLand, where Daugherty was director of safety and training, said: "They were on what we would call basically a fun jump where they went up to accomplish some really cool things in free fall."

"It's hard to place blame. It's a big sky up there, yet we still manage to run into one another. Just a couple of weeks ago, maybe even a week ago, he finished his 20,000th jump," he told Fox 35.

"This has been a real…kick in the stomach for all of us," Hallett added, saying that within an hour after the accident, his company had received "condolences from every corner of the earth."

People also took to social media to pay tribute to Daugherty. On his Facebook page, people posted accounts of how he had taught them how to skydive. Thomas Ousley wrote: "Blue skies to the most incredible teacher out there. A legend of the sky."

Marcus Leuer wrote: "I will never forget that man, who was an inspiration," adding, "skydiving will never be the same for me anymore."

Another user posted: "You were a teacher to so many and mentor to everyone who crossed paths with you. Deland will not be the same without your snarl." Another wrote: "Rest in peace Carl H. Daugherty. Blue skies always my friend."

Officials at Skydive DeLand said they will investigate what happened to see if safety improvements are possible, but have said that it was likely to be just a tragic accident, WESH reported.

Newsweek has contacted Skydive DeLand for further comment.

Skydiver in Denver, Colorado, 2018
A skydiver is pictured in Denver, Colorado in this illustrative image from August 2018. Carl Daugherty, 76, died in a mid-air accident in DeLand, Florida on 16 May 2021. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images