A renowned skydiver who died in an accident at a popular West Australian tourist spot on Sunday has been remembered by “heartbroken” friends as an “absolute legend”.
Dimitri Didenko was competing in the Virtual Nationals Skydiving Championships with friends in the coastal town of Jurien Bay, north of Perth, just after 1pm on Sunday when the tragedy happened.
Police believe the 30-year-old’s parachute failed to deploy correctly, sending him plunging to the ground as around 20 close friends watched in horror.
Skydivers tried desperately to save their friend but it was too late.
“The man received critical injuries and sadly died at the scene,” WA Police said in a statement on Monday.
Mr Didenko, a Russian national who had recently moved to Perth from the Gold Coast and travelled the world for competitions, was a well known figure in the skydiving community who had completed 6000 jumps.
He was competing solo in the wingsuit category, which is an extreme version of the sport.
Tributes have flooded social media from friends and fellow thrillseekers paying tribute to an adventurous spirit who always wanted to teach others how to fly.
“The world won’t be the same without you,” one woman wrote, describing Mr Didenko as an “absolute legend”.
“I met you what feels like a life time ago … and we shared so many fun adventures and memories crossing oceans and continents to meet up for skydiving related ctivities. Records were made and most importantly fun was had. It’s been a while since we were in touch, thank you for being a friend – keep an eye on all of us will ya.”
Another woman said, “So deeply saddened to hear you are no longer with us dude, an amazing six months jumping and partying with a legend like this, privileged to have shared some great memories.”
“One man wrote, “RIP brother, definitely too young to leave. I’ll see you on the other side. Fly high, Supersoviet.”
Another person said, “I don’t know how the heavens go, but I do know that Dimitri’s spirit will continue to live on, in the people that truly knew and loved him. Forever a part of our family.”
A report is being prepared for the coroner and the Australian Parachute Federation is also investigating what happened.
The Nationals Skydiving Championships are normally held in one place but due to COVID-19 border closures this year it was held in seven locations around the country.
Each jump was judged via details fed into a GPS device on the skydiver’s helmet called a flight sight, which will now form a crucial part of the investigation, 7 News reported.
“Regardless of the level of experience involved, safety is paramount and we take every incident very seriously,” Australian Parachute Federation chief executive Richard McCooey said in a statement on Monday.
Dandaragan shire president Leslee Holmes told NCA NewsWire it was “an absolute tragedy”. “We’re absolutely devastated,” she said. “For the first responders too, it’s horrific.”
Skydive Jurien Bay co-owner Christine Sparrow said the man was competing in a wing suit event as part of the week-long competition at several locations.
“This is a terrible day for the skydiving community,” she said.
“Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends as well as the first responders at the event yesterday.”
Despite the police indication that the man’s parachute failed to deploy properly, Ms Sparrow told NCA NewsWire that it was too early to speculate what happened.
Jurien Bay is a popular tourist town that is well known for its skydiving.
Ms Holmes described it as the town’s “marquee business” and said she hoped people would not be deterred from skydiving following the tragedy.
– with NCA NewsWire