Report: Negligence led to paratrooper's death during jump

AP News
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Posted: Sep 27, 2015 12:04 PM

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Negligence by a jump master led to the broken neck and death of a 21-year-old paratrooper from New York who became tangled in another jumper's lines during a 2014 training jump, according to an Army report on the investigation of the death.

Sgt. Shaina Schmigel became tangled in the suspension lines of the next jumper and the most glaring error was the jump master failing to inspect the static lines of Schmigel's parachute, according to the report obtained by The Fayetteville Observer (http://bit.ly/1MQIWHf) under the Freedom of Information Act.

The jump master was permanently removed from those duties, according to the report. That person's name was blacked out in the Army's documents.

The 82nd Airborne Division said the death of the paratrooper from Batavia, New York, led to a thorough safety review.

Schmigel's static line was loose and it caused her parachute to not open properly when she jumped from a C-17 aircraft, the report said. Schmigel was towed behind the plane and then became entangled in the next jumper's lines, breaking her neck in three places several seconds later, according to the report.

Other soldiers found Schmigel dead on May 30, 2014, when they all landed in the jump zone. The four soldiers assigned to the plane's doors were all performing that duty for the first time, according to the Army's report. It recommended that no more than half the soldiers assigned to safety can be doing that job for the first time.

Schmigel was an intelligence analyst with the 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. She had joined the Army in 2010 and was assigned to 2nd Brigade since June 2011.

Her mother told the newspaper that Schmigel spent six months in Iraq, where she would send her daughter beef jerky, candy as well as paper and stamps to write home. Karie Schmigel saw her daughter for the last time on Mother's Day weekend in 2014 when her daughter insisted on seeing her before she returned to Fort Bragg.

"I'm glad I got to see her," the mother said. "Two weeks later, I lost my daughter."

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Information from: The Fayetteville Observer, http://www.fayobserver.com