Woman Killed in Freak Skydiving Accident As Investigation Launched

A woman who died in a skydiving accident "was doing the things she loved to do" her brother has said in a Facebook post.

Karen Bernard, 59, from Wildwood, Florida, was skydiving in upstate New York when her parachute apparently malfunctioned, according to state police.

She had been skydiving in the area of County Highway 34 in the town of Westford at around 9 a.m. on Saturday when the tragedy occurred.

According to a preliminary investigation, New York State Police said in a statement "it appears she had a malfunction with her parachute" after she had jumped out of a plane. "The investigation is ongoing," it added.

In an announcement that was widely reported, her brother, Terry, posted on Facebook, "It is with a sad heart that I need to notify you, her family and friends that Karen passed away Saturday July 24th in a skydiving related accident.

"She was doing the things she loved to do," the post said, "please refrain from asking any questions at this time because we don't have any answers."

"We're all pretty numb and in disbelief," the post added.

Underneath the post, people offered their sympathies. "Sorry for your loss My Condolences to you and the Family," wrote one user. "RIP, Prayers for family and friends," wrote another.

"RIP. May we all do what we love every day. God bless," read another post. "My condolences to you and your family. Rest easy Karen," another user wrote.

Newsweek has contacted New York State Police for further information.

While skydiving accidents are rare, there have been some notable incidents in the past year.

In May, Carl Daugherty, a renowned skydiver who had jumped around 20,000 times before, died during a freak mid-air collision with another person in DeLand Florida.

Witnesses described how the 76-year-old hit the other skydiver when both of their parachutes had deployed. The other skydiver managed to regain control but Daugherty was unable to, landing in the parking lot at DeLand Municipal Airport in Volusia County.

In April, Sabrina Call, 57, of Watsonville, California, died when her primary parachute and her reserve chute tangled.

In July 2020, 18-year old high school graduate Jeanna Renee Triplicata died in a tandem skydive along with her instructor in Upson County, Georgia, as she sought to tick off something from her bucket list.

Figures from the United States Parachute Association (USPA), show that skydiving safety has improved over the last two decades.

In 2000, there were 32 reported fatalities out of 2.7 million jumps, which equates to 1.19 fatalities per 100,000 jumps. Meanwhile, in 2019, there were 15 deaths out of 3.3 million jumps—or 0.45 fatalities per 100,000 jumps.

Skydiver in Dubai in generic image
A person skydives in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in this illustrative image from 2016. Karen Bernard, 59, from Wildwood, Florida, died in a skydiving accident in upstate New York on July 24, 2021. Getty