Two parachutists were seriously injured Saturday morning during the 57th annual Chicago Air and Water show. This makes two incidents in two days for the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.
Just before 11am Saturday, a parachutist crashed into a building near Schiller and Lake Shore drive while another parachutist crashed on North Avenue beach. The crowds knew something had gone terribly wrong as they watched one of the Army Golden Knights parachute team disappear.
“He kept on falling straight from the sky and his parachute never opened,” said witness Corey Schaefer. “So, then a white parachute came down and he was different from all the rest of them so I figured it was his secondary parachute that opened up and then he flew behind the building behind us.”
That parachutist landed near in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Then, moments later, a performer with the Navy Leap Frogs came down hard on North Avenue beach.
“One guy was just coming in really, really fast which at first I thought was part of the show too and then he landed and just went straight down,” said Rachel Hanspal, who witnessed the incident.
Chicago Fire officials say both men were rushed to Northwestern Memorial hospital - where the member of the Golden Knights went into surgery. The investigation is ongoing, but officials believe they may have collided in midair.
During the Friday rehearsal, the Golden Knights had an incident. When the videographer's main parachute failed, the parachutist had to cut himself from the chute, went into freefall and was able to use his reserve chute.
“When we get the parachute back, we are going to hang it up and inspect it,” said Staff Sergeant Jimmy Hackett the member involved in Friday’s incident. “Make sure there is no damage to the parachute.”
There is still no word on what may have caused Saturday morning's collision. The show went on with only minor delays.
Griffin Solari says it's his first time to the show and he will be back.
“I woke up the other day to planes screaming past my house and it was amazing and if I could wake up every day like that I wouldn't need an alarm clock,” said Solari.
A spokesperson for the Golden Knights says the parachutist is in his late twenties, has several injuries and has been with the team for three years.
The Air and Water show continues Sunday - starting at 10 a.m.
Though the Air and Water Show went on Saturday and will continue Sunday, the parachute exhibition Saturday afternoon was cancelled, and both Sunday’s scheduled morning and afternoon parachute-jumping portions of the show also have been canceled, according to team spokeswoman Donna Dixon.