Navy parachutist injured in Duluth Airshow

15 July 2023

DULUTH A parachutist was airlifted to the hospital with injuries after hitting the ground hard while performing at the Duluth Airshow on Saturday.

A Naval Special Warfare spokesperson confirmed a member of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, formerly known as the “Leap Frogs,” was injured during the performance.

The spokesperson said they could not release additional information on the parachutist’s condition or nature of injuries at this time. The Navy is currently notifying their family members.

“The Sailor was immediately attended to by on-site medical personnel and subsequently transported to a local medical facility. We appreciate the swift response by the event staff and emergency medical teams on site who provided immediate assistance,” the spokesperson said in a statement to the News Tribune.

In a separate statement, Jodi Grayson, a Duluth Air and Aviation Expo spokesperson, said the parachutist was “involved in an accident upon landing.”

“The member was immediately tended to by emergency personnel,” and taken by LifeLink III helicopter to Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center, Grayson said.

“The extent of his injuries is unknown at this time. We will update as soon as more information is received,” Grayson said.

Just after 2 p.m., a News Tribune reporter at the airshow saw a parachute demonstration team member hit the ground hard after separating from another jumper during a stunt in which they were attached at the feet to each other. Both had chutes out during the maneuver.

A News Tribune photographer said as the pair approached the ground, they split apart while horizontal. One jumper hit the ground hard while the other landed safely.

The crowd gasped as the jumpers approached the ground at high speed, and the jumper impacted the ground near the announcer’s stand.

The airshow stopped as numerous emergency personnel surrounded the injured parachutist. The medical helicopter landed at the scene just before 2:30 p.m. and left with the injured jumper.

The airshow resumed by about 2:45 p.m.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with our injured team member and their family,” the Naval Special Warfare Spokesperson said. “We wish to thank the community for their support and concern.”

The U.S. Navy Parachute Team is made up of active-duty Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen and support personnel, according to its website.

Team members have “conducted real-world operations” before volunteering for a three-year commitment on the demonstration team. After those three years, they will return to their operation units, the website said.

News Tribune reporter Jay Gabler and News Tribune photographer Clint Austin contributed to this report.

This story was updated at 4:02 p.m. July 15 with quotes from a Naval Special Warfare spokesperson and airshow spokesperson Jodi Grayson. It was originally posted at 3:11 p.m. July 15.


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