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73-Year-Old Ariz. Man Dies in Skydiving Incident After Landing ‘Without a Fully Deployed Parachute’

The Eloy Police Department said he encountered “unexpected complications” while trying to deploy his parachute, thus resulting in him “hard landing"

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

A 73-year-old experienced skydiver died during a skydiving incident after he encountered issues while deploying his parachute.

The Eloy Police Department in Arizona said in a statement on social media that Terry Gardner, 73, along with three friends had gone skydiving with Skydive Arizona on Jan. 31. The four had embarked on their third jump of the day and had been “unable to complete” their formation jump at 14,000 feet thus proceeding to land.

Police added that they did not believe the incomplete formation “contributed to the accident,” and that the three other skydivers were able to land safely. However, Gardner encountered “unexpected complications” while trying to deploy his parachute, thus resulting in him “hard landing without a fully deployed parachute."

The department said Gardner was administered “life-saving measures” by Eloy Fire personnel before being rushed to Casa Grande Banner hospital where he “tragically succumbed to his injuries.”

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Authorities said that they remained uncertain about if there were any issues with the parachute and that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be conducting a full investigation to determine what caused his death.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with all those who knew and loved Terry Gardner during this challenging time," the Eloy Police Department said in their statement.

The Eloy Police Department and Skydive Arizona did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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A spokesperson for Skydive Arizona said in a statement to The Arizona Republic and Inside Edition, that eyewitnesses reported “that the free fall portion of the skydive was uneventful and went as planned," but when they saw Gardner deploy his parachute at “predetermined altitude,” they noticed that there “was a problem involving the main (primary) parachute.”

“The jumper did not deploy the reserve (second) parachute,” the spokesperson for the company said. “The skydiver was jumping parachute gear owned and maintained by the jumper and the weather conditions were clear and calm."

“The Skydive Arizona community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a beloved member. This tragedy profoundly impacts everyone who knew them, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their family and friends in this difficult period,” the company added, noting that its staff is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.

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Sara Curtis, the vice mayor for Eloy, Ariz. and a longtime skydiver, told KPHO-TV, described Gardner as someone with a kind heart who enjoyed life. She said he “led people on jumps” and “was sort of an expert skydiver that helped other people learn.”

Curtis said, “He died doing what he loved and pursuing his passions and his dreams.”

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