Nirmal Purja Explains Fatal Parachuting Accident

ExplorersWeb has received an email from Nirmal Purja’s brand manager with a statement from the climber describing yesterday’s fatal parachuting accident, which killed his instructor, Dean Waldo.

“I am devastated at the loss of Dean,” said Purja. “We had been training together in Spain over the last week.”

This, he says, is what happened:

During a standard skydive, Dean and I were conducting canopy handling and canopy stacking drills. We left the aircraft at 15,000 ft and completing a formation routine while in freefall.

We both finished the routine and were under good canopies by 3,500 ft. With Dean being the high man and above, he made his way down to me. I stayed on heading in full fight towards the Drop Zone as planned. Dean approached and was positioned at 45 degrees directly behind and above. This required deep brakes to stay in position and it is thought due to this, Dean’s canopy stalled and collapsed sending him through my canopy and entangling him within my lines.

This action sent us both into a severe spin and increased our fall rate dramatically. At this point I had no option but to cut away and pull my reserve, releasing me from the entanglement. My observation of Dean was he was under an inflated canopy but descending at a faster rate. I didn’t witness him flaring on landing and identified he was seriously injured.

I conducted lifesaving treatment but unfortunately due to the severity of his injuries, I was unable to resuscitate him.

Jerry Kobalenko

Jerry Kobalenko is the editor of ExplorersWeb. One of Canada’s premier arctic travelers, he is the author of The Horizontal Everest and Arctic Eden, and has just finished a book about adventures in Labrador. In 2018, he was awarded the Polar Medal by the Governor General of Canada and in 2022, he received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal for services to exploration.