Skydive Jurien Bay set for busy Easter holiday trade after wingsuiter death

Elise Van AkenMidwest Times
Skydiver Dimitri Didenko, pictured in 2013, died while competing in the 2021 Virtual Australian Skydiving Championships in Jurien Bay.
Camera IconSkydiver Dimitri Didenko, pictured in 2013, died while competing in the 2021 Virtual Australian Skydiving Championships in Jurien Bay. Credit: Dimitri Didenko/Facebook

Skydive Jurien Bay is gearing up for its busiest Easter school holidays ever, in the wake of a death that shook staff and the small town.

First responder Pete Lonnon said the accident had left him and other skydiving staff shaken up.
Camera IconFirst responder Pete Lonnon said the accident had left him and other skydiving staff shaken up. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

Russian-Italian professional wingsuiter Dimirti Didenko, 30, sustained fatal injuries on the business’ airfield earlier this month when his parachute failed to deploy during a solo competitive jump for the 2021 Virtual Australian Skydiving Championships.

Chief instructor and co-owner of Skydive Jurien Bay Pete Lonnon, who was one of the first on the scene after the accident, said they had not received any cancellations for tandem jumps and he was overwhelmed with the support they had received from “every corner” of the community.

“We’re going to be very busy and we’re going fine, busier than ever ... there’s been no economic impact after the terrible accident,” he said.

“It’s a bit rough, but we’re doing a lot of training with staff and some people have been emotionally impacted and we’re helping them get back to work.

The one positive could be the team is closer than ever.

“The community have been wonderful and I’m actually getting emotional thinking about all the support we’ve received.

“Not just from residents and the Shire, who really came out to bat for us, but from the likes of the police and aviation authority as well.”

Competitive wing-suiter Dimitri Didenko (right), pictured with his friend Tiger Lorenzi, died after his paracute failed to deloy during a jump in Jurien Bay.
Camera IconCompetitive wing-suiter Dimitri Didenko (right), pictured with his friend Tiger Lorenzi, died after his paracute failed to deloy during a jump in Jurien Bay. Credit: @tigerlorenzi/Instagram

In the days following Mr Didenko’s death, Shire of Dandaragan president Leslee Holmes said Skydive Jurien Bay was a critical business to the town and the incident was not a reflection on the safety and professionalism of the local skydiving industry.

“Skydive Jurien Bay is one of our marquee businesses and their professionalism is second to none. (It) has done nearly 100,000 jumps in 10 years of operating here without accident,” she said.

“He would have known the risks of jumping with that suit, but it doesn’t make it any less sad. It’s an extreme sport but normal tandem skydiving is safe.

“The community here are just so sad about it, we’re a tight-knit community and this has shaken us ... we’re going to be very busy at Easter and just wish everyone a safe holiday.”

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is investigating the incident, while WA Police will prepare a report for the coroner.

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