Two men injured after mid-air skydiving collision

- Two men are in the hospital after an accident in the air.

They were skydiving Tuesday when they collided at a high rate of speed. It happened over Skydive City in Zephyrhills.

At last check, both men were at Tampa General Hospital, one in critical condition, the other serious but stable.

On a day so clear, Zephyrhills was a skydiver's paradise. One by one, jumpers buzzed the blades of grass. But, any one of them will tell you that soaring with the birds comes with great risks.

"You have to look out for the other jumpers and the other jumpers have to look out for you," said full-time wing suit coach Travis Mickle.

Tuesday, two men suited up at Skydive City. They were experienced skydivers wearing wing suits, according to President and General Manager David TK Hayes.

During a planned formation jump from more 14,500 feet, Hayes said they had a free fall collision, shortly after exiting the plane. One was hurt but deployed and landed his own main parachute. The other was either knocked out or incapacitated and landed under a reserve chute.

"We do use automatic activation devices," said Mickle. "It is just a little computer that if you do get knocked out, skydiving is dangerous, you know you have something that will throw a parachute over your head and it is ultimately what saved that jumper's life."

One diver landed in the drop zone. The other landed about 4 miles away on County Road 54.

"I just saw him laying on the ground," said Russell Workman. "I thought a bicyclist was hit by a car until I got over there. I could see his parachute laying just above his head."

Workman, who spent 27 years working with a fire department, had his instincts kick in.

"I checked his airways, breathing and circulation," Workman recalled. "That was fine so  I  knew he was alive. He had some type of head injury. I don't know how bad."

Both men were flown by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital.

"This is a very, very rare instance," said Mickle, who trained both of the jumpers.

Though it takes 200 jumps before anyone can wear a wing suit, no matter how many times you've done it, he said, safety is always key.

"Wing-suiting can be very high speed," Mickle said. "Essentially, one jumper wasn't being safe and sometimes, people get hurt. It's the nature of the beast in skydiving."

Despite the accident, skydiving continued at Skydive City.

Fatalities in skydiving are rare. According to the United States Parachute Association, in 2014, they recorded 24 fatal accidents out of roughly 3.2 million jumps.

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