Two skydivers killed near Cross Keys Airport|
Two skydivers who took off from Cross Keys Airport this morning died when their main parachute failed to open and their reserve chute deployed too late. The men --- one of whom was an experienced instructor, according to authorities --- jumped from a plane owned by Freefall Adventures, a skydiving school based at Cross Keys Airport in the Williamstown section of Monroe Township. They landed around 11:48 a.m. in the yard of a home on Berlin-Cross Keys Road across from a Home Depot, according to the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office. One of the men was a Williamstown resident, according to the prosecutor's office. The other lived in Hoboken but had relatives who live in Vineland. Their names were not released pending notification of relatives. Investigators believe the men were performing a tandem jump, a routine practice in which an instructor and beginning skydiver are tied together. An official at Freefall Adventures did not immediately return a phone call seeking information about the accident and the skydivers. Several witnesses, including a Washington Township patrol officer, saw the men plummet to the ground, authorities said. The Gloucester County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct autopsies Monday. Berlin-Cross Keys Road remained closed for several hours while investigators tried to determine what happened. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct an investigation into the accident. An FAA official spent Sunday afternoon at the crash scene. Freefall Adventures, which boasts on its Web site that it has introduced more than 250,000 people to recreational skydiving, has had its share of fatal accidents. A July 2005 jump killed two experienced, licensed jumpers who collided in midair. Their parachutes became tangled following their leap from one of the school's planes. At least four other people have died in jumps sponsored by Freefall Adventures, which has operated at Cross Keys Airport for more than 20 years.