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Published On: Sat, Sep 29th, 2018

Brett Bickford, Maine skydiver, who went missing during a jump, found dead

Search crews have found what they believe to be the body of a skydiving instructor who disappeared during a jump in Maine.

Brett Bickford, 41, of Rochester, New Hampshire, was strapped to a student during a tandem dive Thursday afternoon at Skydive New England, officials said.

Bickford and his partner became separated approximately one mile above the ground, said Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesperson Steve McCausland, who spoke to the press about the incident. Bickford did not have a backup parachute during the jump.

“They both face the same way,” Maine Warden Cpl. John MacDonald said. “You’ve got an instructor, you’ve got a student or whatever you want to call them, the paying person below you. That’s how they came down initially out of the plane.”

“Definitely, as any of us would be, they were shaken up,” MacDonald said. “They’re really lucky we’re not looking for two people.”

“The fall was not survivable,” said McCausland.

The search began on Thursday, after the student called police and reported Bickford missing. Bickford was found as the team was completing one of the few remaining grid searches for the day.

The investigation to determine what caused the fatal skydiving accident is ongoing, MacDonald said.

Maine State Police and the Maine Warden Service participated in the search.

“I’ve never once heard of anything like this happening,” said Ryan Scutt, a skydiving instructor in Bennington, Vermont, who was contacted by the Portland Press Herald for his insights into the incident.

Scutt said skydiving instructors and students both wear harnesses on jumps, with the main parachute and a backup in the harness attached to the instructor. The instructor and student are typically connected by four metal buckles and it would be almost impossible for them to become detached accidentally, he said.

“The idea of the instructor not being in the harness anymore or falling out is essentially unheard of,” he said, and the pair “can’t become disconnected once they are connected.”

photo/ Gerd Altmann via pixabay

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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. […] buckles and it would be nearly impossible for them to become detached accidentally, Scutt told the Global Dispatch at the […]

  2. […] The instructor and student are usually connected by four metal buckles and it would be nearly impossible for them to become detached accidentally, Scutt told the Global Dispatch. […]

  3. […] The instructor and student are usually connected by four metal buckles and it would be nearly impossible for them to become detached accidentally, Scutt told the Global Dispatch. […]

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