An informal memorial will be held Saturday at the Parachute School of Toronto in Baldwin for one of the school’s students, who died after a solo skydive went horribly wrong last Sunday.
“It’s a small get-together with jumpers around here to honour his memory,” school director Adam Mabee said yesterday. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Igor Zaitsev, 42, of Etobicoke died after crash landing in the yard of a Baldwin Road home just west of Hwy. 48 around 4:30 p.m. July 21.
The crash site is less than one kilometre where Mr. Zaitsev was supposed to touch down at the Smith Boulevard airport.
The aerospace engineer was conscious at the scene and was transported to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, where he was later pronounced dead.
“It is still not clear what went wrong with the jump,” said Mr. Mabee, adding the school is working with York Regional Police during the continuing coroner’s investigation of the fatal accident.
“There are not a lot of solid answers at this point,” he said, adding his hope is for conclusive findings to help keep the sport of skydiving as safe as possible in the future.
Police confirmed experts with the Canadian Forces Advanced Warfare Centre were called in Monday to conduct a forensic examination of the skydiving equipment, but were advised it could take several months before a report is filed with the coroners’ office.
This is not the first time a skydiver has plunged to his death. The parachute school, which has trained more than 55,700 first-time jumpers and provided more than 247,000 jumps is based out of the tiny airport in Baldwin.
In August 2002, a 38-year-old skydiver died when his main and reserve chutes failed to open.
On average, there are only one or two deaths a year associated with the extreme sport, with skydivers performing more than 100,000 jumps a year since 1996, according to Canadian Sport Parachuting Association statistics.
The recent tragedy rocked the tiny Georgina community, which has become accustomed to the odd, errant skydiver making unexpected, but still safe, landings in their back yards.
But it also put organizers of an upcoming fundraising skydive for breast cancer research in a difficult position regarding an event scheduled for Saturday.
“We struggled with the decision to go ahead with the event in light of the recent tragedy,” said the parachute school’s marketing manager, Jasmine Cheng. “We’ve been trying to figure out what the right thing to do is under the circumstances.”
Weather permitting, the tit4tat event will go ahead as planned because it supports such an important cause, but will be scaled back out of respect for Mr. Zaitsev and his family, said Ms Cheng.
Topless skydive formation photos will be taken Saturday by experienced, in-air videographers for donation to tit4tat for use in posters, books and calendars.
All proceeds from the sale of merchandise will help raise funds for cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation – University Health Network.
For every charity tandem jump, the parachute school will donate $25. For every charity licensed skydiver jump, $5 will be donated.
“As a family of jumpers, (the accident) hits very close to home and we are still all trying to come to terms with it,” said Ms Cheng. “We’ll all be there and we plan to hold a candlelight vigil.”