HONOLULU – A skydiving instructor and a student from Japan died when their tandem parachute missed Oahu's Dillingham Airfield and landed in rough surf 300 yards from shore, authorities said.
Skydive Hawaii instructor Erich Mueller, 69, was declared dead shortly after arriving at a hospital emergency room Friday, and student Saori Takahashi, 33, of Hokkaido, Japan, died later that night, according to the medical examiner's office.
The water the two landed in is only waist deep, said Bodo Van Der Leeden, captain of the city's North Shore lifeguards. "But the conditions out there were really, really rough, very treacherous, with the waves breaking over the reef."
Fire Capt. Kenison Tejada said both victims were tangled up in the parachute. Rescue workers estimated they had been under water 15 to 30 minutes before they were freed.
Witnesses said the parachute fully opened, and winds were blowing at about 15 mph, but they missed the landing zone.
Skydive Hawaii President Frank Hinshaw said Mueller was a retired German military officer who had been with the company for eight years and was an experienced instructor with thousands of jumps in his career.
He was "well-liked, well-respected and loved by just about everybody who knew him," Hinshaw said.
In February, a Pearl Harbor sailor with Skydive Hawaii died in a skydiving accident at Mokuleia Beach. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jeremy M. Barrett was killed when his parachute failed to open.