Skydiver May Have Experienced Medical Emergency Midair, Dies

Witnesses said everything went as normal and the chute opened properly, but the diver eventually drifted off course for reasons still under investigation

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A skydiver who may have suffered a medical emergency midair was killed Sunday morning following an incident near Otay Lake, according to CalFire.

Authorities responded to a report of an injured skydiver with “major trauma” sometime before 11 a.m. off Otay Lakes Road. A San Diego County Sheriff's Department ASTREA helicopter was in the air at the time the call came in and it located the victim quickly.

CPR was performed on the skydiver, later identified as 47-year-old San Diego resident Joseph James Wingen, for about an hour before he was pronounced dead, CalFire said.

"He deployed his own parachute," said Tony Goodman, Operations Manager of Skydive San Diego. "The canopy was flying perfectly well, he was put out in the right place so that there really wasn’t any reason that he wouldn’t make it back to the landing area behind me."

The Medical Examiner's Office did not release a cause of death.

The man was licensed and trained in skydiving and had made more than 40 jumps, the last being in 2002, according to Skydive San Diego.

During the skydive, everything went as planned; the man jumped and did a normal free-fall. The chute opened properly and he seemed to have control of it. However, witnesses said he soon drifted off course.

“He was observed by other jumpers to be actually manually steering the parachute and then something happened shortly before landing," Goodman said.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that the skydiver may have had a medical emergency while in midair.

“As far as we’re concerned, and the first responders were all under the general consensus that unfortunately, this skydiver had some sort of medical trauma after the parachute had opened and between him making contact with the ground," Goodman said.

Goodman went on to say the skydiving community is a close-knit bunch who look out for each other.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to his families and close friends," he added.

The investigation is ongoing.

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