Briton, German identified as Arizona skydiving fatalities

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 04, 2013 7:46 PM

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Two skydivers who died after colliding in midair and plummeting to the ground in a jump earlier this week in Arizona were a Briton and a German, police said on Wednesday.

Keiron O'Rourke, 40, from the United Kingdom and Bernd Schmehl, 51, of Germany were among 200 skydivers taking part in a jump at the Skydive Arizona facility in Eloy, Arizona, about 65 miles south of Phoenix, on Tuesday, according to the Eloy Police Department.

Witnesses reported O'Rourke and Schmehl collided in midair at a height of about 200 to 300 feet, causing their canopies to collapse and sending both men falling to the ground, the department said in a news release.

The men were veteran jumpers. O'Rourke had logged 849 jumps, 100 in the last six months, while Schmehl had made 1,707 jumps, 80 in the last six months.

There were early reports the midair collision involved three skydivers. But investigators determined the third skydiver was injured in a separate incident.

The Eloy Police Department's criminal investigations division and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the deaths.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Eric Beech)