Two people killed in Sunday skydiving accident

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Two people were killed Sunday afternoon in a skydiving incident at the Thomaston-Upson County Airport.

The pair – 35-year-old Nick Esposito, of Warner Robins, an employee of SkyDive Atlanta, and 18-year-old Jeanna Triplicata – had made a tandem jump together and died when both the primary and backup parachutes malfunctioned.

According to Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore, Esposito and Triplicata were pronounced dead at the scene.

“Around 12:45, we received a 911 call to the airport area. SkyDive Atlanta operates their business out of the Thomaston-Upson County Airport. Esposito worked there as an instructor and the girl had come there from Newnan with her family. She wanted to do a jump. It was going to be a tandem jump, such that she would be connected to an instructor by a harness,” Kilgore said. “They went up and when they deployed the chute, it didn’t fully open. It went into a spin and as it spun, for some reason, the secondary chute was deployed at a very low altitude and didn’t stop their descent. When they crashed, they were deceased right there. They crashed into a field out off of Rocky Bottom Road. They weren’t far off airport property.”

The Upson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident with assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We went out and collected evidence and are investigating to learn why that happened. We’ve called the FAA and been in touch with one of their people. They’re gathering information from us on the investigation and we’re hoping they’re going to send us a subject matter expert to examine the parachutes and maybe give us some idea of why the malfunction occurred,” Kilgore said. “We’ve asked for expert help on it because truthfully, that’s something I don’t know. That’s why you ask for that expert assistance. This is a very specialized field of study.”

Kilgore said investigators believe this was a tragic accident.

“We certainly don’t think it’s anything criminal, but we’d would definitely like to have an idea of why it happened. I would think this was a terrible misfortune, but I would like to be thorough in our investigation and know the cause,” he said. “She had just graduated and that was on her bucket list. Her grandma also jumped, and her jump went well. Her mother, father and siblings had come over to watch her jump. It’s just tragic. Your heart just aches for that entire family. She was supposed to be starting college in a couple of months. She was at an age when she was doing exciting things at a great time in her life,” Kilgore said. “He (Esposito) was fairly new to the company. It breaks my heart for them both. It’s just so sad and tragic. Our whole community – everyone I’ve spoken to today – is concerned for them. We certainly pray for them.”

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