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NYC correction officer dead, instructor injured in Long Island skydiving accident: Officials
A New York City correction officer was killed and his instructor seriously injured Wednesday in a tandem skydiving accident in Calverton, Riverhead police said.
The accident happened at 4:10 p.m. at Skydive Long Island, FAA investigators and Riverhead police said. Skydive Long Island is a Calverton-based business that caters to recreational skydivers and also operates a training school.
The names of the correction officer who died and his instructor were withheld Wednesday night, pending the notification of relatives.
The instructor was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, a police spokesman said.
The correction officer would have turned 25 Thursday, said Norman Seabrook, president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association Inc.
"It's an unfortunate tragedy that we lose one of our brother officers the day before his 25th birthday, a young man, a great officer with so much promise," Seabrook said in a statement released Wednesday night. "Our hearts go out to his family and we will always be there for them."
Ray Maynard, the owner of Skydive Long Island, choked up as he briefly spoke Wednesday night outside his office near Calverton Executive Airpark.
"I'm very sorry about the unfortunate skydiving accident that happened today," Maynard said. "It resulted in one fatality and one person in critical condition. It's under investigation by the FAA and the police, and that's all I have to say."
Federal Aviation Administration officials would not comment at the scene about the circumstances surrounding the accident.
Witnesses said the parachute was open, Riverhead Police Chief Dave Hegermiller said.
Nearly 30 NYC correction officers arrived at the scene of the accident Wednesday night, but none would comment. Several of the officers, some in their correction department uniforms and others in street clothes, could be seen hugging and consoling each other.
On its website, the Calverton-based business bills itself as "the premiere resort skydiving facility in the tri-state area." The website also says the company is the only training center for skydiving students on Long Island.
Maynard, who has owned the skydiving business since 1986, according to the website, celebrated his 45th year leaping out of airplanes on July 20 after more than 4,000 jumps.
Last summer, a 25-year-old Massapequa woman and her tandem instructor from Skydive Long Island narrowly escaped serious injury during her first-ever jump.
Powerful winds pushed Amber Gandolfo and her instructor off course as they attempted to land after their July 26, 2013, jump. They crashed into a canopy of trees, where they hung by part of the opened parachute until rescuers arrived.
In April 2011, a New York City man was injured when he landed incorrectly while participating with 15 others in a jump operated by Skydive Long Island, Riverhead Town police and company officials said at the time. Peter Hamilton, 32, was treated for injuries at Stony Brook, officials said.
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