Skydiver Dead for Days Unnoticed

Obviously no one intended for this to happen, but wow. BBC is reporting that Dutch jumper Mark van den Boogaard had some kind of malfunction on a jump, landed off the DZ, died, and wasn’t found until a week later, by rabbit hunters. The article says Mark was a bit of a loner, not close to family, and worked alone from his home, so no missing persons report was filed.

The DZ doesn’t have a check-in system and DZM Simon Woerlee is quoted as saying, “If you are forced to find out where everyone is, there can be a big drama for nothing. You can call all the emergency rescue teams and helicopters, then discover the person is sitting at home having tea with his granddad – that has happened before.”

Carolina Sky Sports had a check-in system that was pretty strictly adhered to – you got a ticket for each jump and had to return it immediately upon landing. Does anyone jump at a place where this works? It doesn’t happen often, but seems worth it for situations like this and the incident in Texas where the jumper (who was also in charge of checking people in) wasn’t noticed missing for days.

PD New Beginning

In any case, BSBD Mark.

Source: BBC


  • I jump at Langar in the UK, and we have a check-in system. Essentially once the flight has taken off, the manifest list is moved to the other side of the desk, on the landing area side. Once you’ve landed, you tick the box next to your name. If (after a while) not everyone has checked in, flights will stop until the missing person has been found, usually by some shouting over the tannoy. I’ve only seen this happen once in a year, with a new student who forgot to check in.

    The check-in desk in on the way from the landing zone to the packing area, so it’s not out of anybody’s way at all.

    I’ve seen a number of injuries happen here, thankfully all near the manned check-in desk, so they were never far from help, but, if they were out of sight, because of the system we have in place they would be noticed as missing in under 20 minutes from jumping.

    • Is there a certain time after which a search begins if someone hasn’t checked in?

      We thought of a few situations where someone landed out and it took them over an hour to make their way back to the DZ. Would hate to get a nice fat bill for helicopter search after you’ve spent half a day slogging out of a forest or swamp.

      • I think it’s more along the lines of ‘everyone else from that lift was back a while ago, why is one box still unticked?’ They’d most likely send the trucks out to search the DZ first, as you correctly say most of the time it’s just someone landing far away. The DZO also tends to spot parachutes landing off because of bad spots too. I don’t think they’d do helicopter search&rescue unless someone had been missing for a few hours, and in the UK at least I don’t think you’d get billed for it anyway, search&rescue is run by the RAF.

  • Netheravon in Wiltshire -UK has a similar set up. Its a designated touch screen which jumpers walk past to get back to the packing hall . You touch your name on the screen which in turn switches your name from RED to GREEN and checks you in. Its effortless and no one complains. I read of a similar missing person who went in on a jump at a Californian DZ. No one noticed he was missing for days until some one questioned the car which had not been moved in the parking lot. I do the odd solo jump and have often wondered if anyone would notice it I had a problem and landed way off or or worse.

  • I have been on certain jumps (high altitude / night etc) where check-in has been required even when the DZ does not normally require it. That said, everyone carries their cell phones for ‘offs’ right? That at least would prevent an unnecessary helicopter search.
    I liked the idea of the touch screen whereby you just touched your name after each jump and operations were halted after say 1 hour if there was a missing person. Beer if you are not injured and you halt the fun! :)

  • I was at the Siofok-Kiliti DZ in Hungary last summer and they have a similar system as well. You swipe your jumper ID badge at the card reader before and after each jump. Their whole manifest system is self-service. There’s a touchscreen terminal where you select the load you want to be on.

  • Interesting that non-US DZs seem to be more technologically advanced in the manifest/check-in area. I’ve jumped at places here that still aren’t computerized at all, just someone writing your name down on a sheet of paper. I wonder what the total cost of implementing a new touchscreen system is.

    • I visited a few other DZs in surrounding countries during that trip – Dropzone Prostejov (CZ), Slovakia Boogie (Slavnica, SK) and Skydive Vienna (Wiener Neustadt, A) – they all issue you a jumper ID card, though not fully self-service like at Siofok. The system at Siofok was the most elaborate, with the pre/post-jump checks. I was really surprised to see that kind of investment. I’ll see if I can find out some details. They’ve built-out a super-nice DZ. It’s like a resort – cabins, restaurant, snack bar, numerous packing hangars, etc. Lake Balaton is down the road. I can’t wait to go back. Love the Mi-8 helo jumps!

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