Skydiver Dies After Colliding With Big Rig
Lodi, CA – A skydiver was killed Thursday afternoon on Highway 99 near Lodi when she collided with a semi-truck in a landing gone terribly wrong.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) said the incident occurred around 2:15 p.m. near Jahant Road on Highway 99 southbound.
Authorities identified the victim as a 28-year-old woman from Colombia.
According to CHP, she was among a group of seven people who were parachuting in the area.
The woman was blown off course, when she collided with a big rig that was traveling southbound on Highway 99.
After hitting the semi, the woman collided and came to rest on the shoulder of the highway.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Officer Ruben Jones of CHP said it is currently unclear whether the woman struck the semi-truck, was struck by the vehicle or landed on top of it.
Truck driver Eric Mello from San Joaquin County told local news outlet KCRA he has traveled that stretch of highway hundreds of times and has taken note of skydivers flying over the highway.
Mello drives the same type of truck and trailer involved in Thursday’s incident and said he feels terribly for the truck driver who now has to live with this.
“I’d be a wreck. I feel bad for the driver and the family [of the woman killed]. It’s terrible,” Mello said.
Car hauler Rick Costa spoke with KCRA. He also travels that section of Highway 99 frequently for his work.
Costa said he always found it strange the way people would parachute over the highway.
“I never thought it was very safe,” Costa said. “The way they do it, they actually fly over the freeway and come back to grass when they land.”
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Costa believes changes need to be made.
“Unless they change something, it’s only a matter of time before more and more of that happens and more people die,” he said.
The name of the truck driver involved in the incident was not released and he was thankfully uninjured in the incident.
According to the Sacramento Bee, wind speeds at the time were clocked at 17 miles per hour (15 knots), which is enough to ground small planes at the nearby airstrip.
Multiple local news outlets, including the Sacramento Bee and KCRA, reported on the deadly history of the Lodi Parachute Center.
The Sacramento Bee said 21 parachuting fatalities have been reported from the facility since 1981.
The most recent death associated with Lodi Parachute Center prior to Thursday’s incident was in October 2018, when a woman fell to her death after her parachute failed to deploy.
Thursday’s incident remains under investigation by CHP and the Federal Aviation Administration.