Sarah-Jane Bayram (pictured on a previous jump), died in a skydiving tragedy.
A British skydiver who suffered a catastrophic mid-air collision before being blown over a mile out to sea, has expressed concern about windy conditions shortly before boarding the flight.
And two others declined to take part in the jump for the same reason, Sunday’s Herald can reveal.
Senior skydivers believe Skydive Auckland should have had a rescue boat on standby for the sunset jump from Muriwai Beach last month, saying that eventuality may have saved Sarah-Jane Bayram’s life.
Read more: Death in parachuting: dad “shocked”; two more business-related deaths
They also wonder if some of the 43-year-old’s other skydivers were properly equipped for the nine-person “speed star” training attempt.
Rescuers who raced to Bayram’s aid on a jet ski say she was purple, foaming from her nose and mouth, and appeared to have sucked in water while they performed CPR. Although a coroner has yet to rule on the cause of death, they believe she was still breathing when she hit the ocean and likely drowned.
Bayram’s grieving father told the Herald on Sunday that she enjoys high-risk sport and often speaks of the spectacular views over Parakai.
He was still “shocked” and barely beginning to process his death.
“Every day melts into another. It’s harder now than two weeks ago. The more you think about it, the more you remember it.
“I guess it could have been avoided, no doubt. We’ll just have to wait for things to take their course.”
The death is the third in three years linked to the Parakai-based parachute and training operation. Industry sources say the spate of deaths raises questions about safety and training standards.
There are calls for a formal audit by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
“I feel like this was a totally preventable tragedy, which is what makes me so angry,” a source said.
“There are lots of people who want to talk but are too scared to do so.
“It’s got to stop. There’s no need for people to die.”
But the companies are defending their safety record, with Skydive Auckland CEO and director Tony Green saying there is only a ‘one in a million chance of death’ from skydiving.
You were more likely to die mountain biking or rock fishing, he said.
While any accident is concerning and investigated, there was always an element of risk. He said the three deaths all involved certified skydivers who were responsible for following aviation safety rules.
Green expected skydiving operators to revise protocols around beach landings and water jumps in light of the tragedy.
“Lightning striking twice is not uncommon.
“I probably won’t be doing beach jumps anymore.”
The Herald learned on Sunday that Bayram had raised concerns about “strong winds” with a friend shortly before boarding the plane.
Two other skydivers who were offered spots on the same jump declined, also citing the gusty easterly breeze.
One, a good friend of Bayram’s, told the Herald on Sunday: “It was windy, blowing offshore. If anything goes wrong, you’re going to be swept out to sea.”
The skydiver – who witnessed Bayram’s fall – was surprised that no lifeboats were organized or local surf lifesavers were alerted to the event.
The CAA says there is no such requirement for recreational beach landings, but sources say rescue lifeboats are best practice for descents in or near open and common water in certain drop zones.
A Herald on Sunday investigation found the latest three deaths all involved recent New Zealand Skydiving School graduates who trained at Skydive Auckland’s shared Parakai facility.
The crashes have raised concerns about whether thrill-seeking graduates are properly equipped to make split-second decisions during dangerous high-altitude jumps where there is little margin for error.
Irish national Jack Creane, 27, died in March 2019 after crash landing in Parakai shortly after graduating.
Theo Williams, 21, died in March last year after crash landing in Tauranga. He had been trained in Parakai and had recently graduated.
And Bayram died three weeks ago. The young man involved in the collision with her at more than 200 km / h was also a young graduate.
A seasoned skydiver said in his view that some of the people on Bayram’s plane were “relatively newbies”.
Although video of the incident has been secured by police, the source understands that the man involved in the collision was trying to reach the formation at high speed when the catastrophic impact occurred.
The source was aware of other recent skydiving incidents involving broken bones and hospital admissions.
The latest fatalities have suggested issues at the senior management level that could affect culture and safety, a skydiver with years of industry experience told the Herald on Sunday.
“If you have people with egos, it becomes dangerous.
“If they instill the wrong mindset in young paratroopers, you’re setting the timer on a bomb that’s going to go off in a year or two.
“It’s an environment that doesn’t bode well if you make mistakes.”
Creane suffered fatal injuries while jumping from 13,000ft Skydive Auckland on March 15, 2019.
In a new revelation, her sister Abby says that just two months before the crash, her brother nearly died during a wetsuit jump after losing control in a terrifying high-speed spin.
In a message to his sister along with a video of the incident, Creane wrote that he was “15 seconds away from dying”.
The incident has not been reported to the CAA but is currently being investigated after the Herald brought it to the attention of investigators on Sunday.
Abby said she was alarmed to learn that there were now three deaths linked to the skydiving company or school, which she said suggested a trend.
“Skydiving is actually a very safe sport. For three people who have died in the last few years, that’s huge.”