Dead parachutist ‘gentle but confident young man’ – skydiving school

The young skydiver who died during a jump is being remembered as an “old soul” who was well-liked by students and instructors alike at his former training school.

New Zealand Skydiving School today issued a statement expressing their sadness at the death of former student Theo Williams who died tragically in an accident at Tauranga Airport on Saturday after completing a solo jump.

The school’s operations manager Fiona McLaren said the 21-year-old had a passion for the extreme sport that claimed his life.

Staff and students had been left heartbroken by the tragedy.

“Theo was a dedicated student who loved skydiving, yet he was a gentle but confident young man,” said McLaren.

“He was often described as an ‘old soul’, was extremely well-liked by all students and instructors, developing very strong bonds with his fellow classmates.”

The skydiving school send their deepest sympathy and condolences to his family at this heart-breaking time, she said.

Emergency services were called to the Bay of Plenty airport on Kittyhawk Way at 10.33am on Saturday after reports that a parachutist had crashed.

A witness to Saturday’s accident has described watching in horror as Williams plummeted to the ground.

Maree Conayne told the Herald she was with her family at the nearby gliding school by Tauranga Airport when the tragedy unfolded.

“We were at the gliding club waiting to go up in the plane… we watched some parachutists come down fine and then we saw a tandem and another one coming down,” she said.

“The lower one, it just kind of started spinning and it came down really, really fast. The ground just shook.”

She said his parachute had deployed but looked “deflated” and did not appear to be catching any air.

“That’s when he just started spinning like a corkscrew.”

Conayne said a young man rushed over and began trying to rouse the victim.

“The airport fire engine, they were doing some training, they came over and they straight away started doing CPR.”

WorkSafe and the Civil Aviation Authority have been notified.

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