One killed in skydiving accident

March 12, 2008 6:34:51 PM PDT
A skydiving student from Tacoma, Wash., died Wednesday when his parachute failed to open during a jump. The Brazoria County Sheriff's Department identified the man as 59-year-old Rex Williams.

Steve Boyd, owner of Skydive Spaceland, said Williams was with at least a dozen other people when they jumped from a plane about 2 p.m. but none saw him fall. Boyd said he spotted the body from the air after someone called the airport to say that a skydiver had fallen.

Williams landed in a wooded, swampy area about a mile from the airport.

"I had to direct people in there on four-wheelers," Boyd said in a story for Wednesday's online edition of the Houston Chronicle.

Boyd said they don't know why Williams' main or reserve parachutes didn't open.

Williams was making his ninth jump. He began training in November.

"He was like family to us," Boyd said. "We're pretty upset." Boyd said the death was the fifth at the center in eight years. Scott Bell, 35, an employee of the center, died in November when his parachute malfunctioned.

Boyd said there are more than 50,000 parachute jumps made each year.

Brazoria County sheriff's Lt. Russ Baker said a parachute rigging expert from the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the accident.

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