German skydiver killed in Eloy is ID'd

2014-04-03T09:59:00Z 2014-04-03T14:11:20Z German skydiver killed in Eloy is ID'dKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 03, 2014 9:59 am  • 

The name of a woman from Germany who died this morning during a skydiving event in Eloy was released by authorities.

Sgt. Brian Jerome with the Eloy Police Department identified the victim as Diana Paris, 46, from Berlin, Germany. Her husband told police she had completed 1,500 jumps in her skydiving career.

Paris was jumping at about 7:30 a.m. when her parachute malfunctioned, Jocelyn Bernatchez, spokeswoman for Skydive Arizona, said in an email. “The malfunctioning parachute was released too low to allow the reserve parachute to fully open.”

Paris was pronounced dead at the scene.

Skydive Arizona was hosting a World Team event when the accident occurred. World Team is an international skydiving team “comprised of world class athletes, professional camera flyers, skilled pilots, and support personnel,” according to its website.

Eloy is located about half way between Tucson and Phoenix.

The accident happened during an attempt to set a world skydiving record by having more than 220 people freefall from an airplane in formation.

The group of 222 people from 28 countries was to free-fall from about 18,000 feet, come together in a formation before separating and doing another formation, then pull their parachutes.

The skydivers jumped at such a high elevation that they needed oxygen masks in the airplane, and they hurtled through the air at speeds of more than 100 mph.

The group did not complete the formation and therefore did not set the record Thursday.

But the parachutists quickly returned to the air and completed a special jump to honor their friend — and planned to continue their pursuit of the record. They planned to keep a spot open in the formation to honor the victim.

"Our dear friend cannot and will not be replaced," said Gulcin, whose organization organized the record attempt. "The group will continue to hold the slot open in the skydiver's honor."

Skydivers cried and hugged each other and prayed after they learned of the death. But they also had no interest in quitting because of the tragedy.

"You can die crossing the street," said skydiver Debbie Franzese of New York. "It's sad, but also it happens. You know, it just happens."

Skydive Arizona in Eloy has been the site of other skydiving deaths in recent months.

Two skydivers — from Germany and the United Kingdom — died in November as their parachutes collapsed and they fell to their deaths during an attempt to set a jump record.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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