Colorado Navy SEAL killed when parachute fails to open during Memorial Day demonstration
JERSEY CITY, N.J. — A Navy SEAL who fell to his death when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River has been identified as a 27-year-old Colorado man.
The accident that killed Remington J. Peters occurred Sunday at Liberty State Park, a large New Jersey park across from Manhattan where people catch ferries to see the Statue of Liberty.
Peters, a member of an elite Navy parachute team called the Leap Frogs, was registered to vote in Mesa County at an address in Grand Junction. The cause of the parachute malfunction that killed him is under investigation.
Peters was among four parachutists who drifted down from two helicopters. The Navy says he was pulled from the water by the U.S. Coast Guard. His parachute landed in a parking lot.
“I’m terribly saddened,” said Nancy Malinowski, a Cranford, New Jersey, resident who was in Liberty State Park and knew something had gone wrong when she saw a parachute with nobody attached to it descend behind a building.
“I don’t think 90 percent of the people there were aware,” Malinowski said, describing a gathering in the park that included food trucks, a Navy band and lots of small children. “Everybody was out there to support the military.”
Malinowski said she learned later in the day from a firefighter that the parachutist had died.
“It was devastating. We felt terrible,” she said. “We figured it had to be a young man trying to do a little P.R. for the service. On Memorial Day weekend. It couldn’t have been worse.”
In a release, the Navy said the parachutist was rescued immediately from the water by U.S. Coast Guard personnel who were standing by in vessels to support the aerial demonstration that featured the coordinated parachute jump. Local fire department personnel who were also on standby responded as well. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center at 1:10 p.m.
The Navy said the identity of the victim would be released after family notifications were completed.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family, and I ask for all of your prayers for the Navy SEAL community who lost a true patriot today,” said Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
In a Facebook post Sunday morning, the Leap Frogs promoted the jump with a photo of a team member descending in a parachute during an earlier jump, an American flag attached to him, saying: “New York City look to the skies at 12:00. We’ll be jumping into Liberty State Park today for Memorial Day Weekend and in celebration of Navy Fleet Week.”
The accident came nearly two years after a U.S. Army skydiver, who had served five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, died from injuries suffered in a midair collision with a Navy jumper during a stunt at the Chicago Air & Water Show that combined the Army Gold Knights and the Navy Leap Frogs parachute teams. The Aug. 16, 2015, accident claimed the life of 32-year-old Master Sgt. Corey Hood, of Cincinnati.
According to the Leap Frogs website, the team has performed every month this year, including at baseball home openers in Philadelphia and San Diego last month and at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, in January. In June, it is scheduled to perform at Sail Boston 2017 and at Navy Week in Pittsburgh. Stops later this summer include Minneapolis, Chicago and Salt Lake City, Utah.
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