Chutist Dead After Collision In Jump

Posted: May 15, 1992

Daniel Brady had just broken formation, hanging in midair with three other parachutists, when he collided Wednesday with a fifth skydiver videotaping the maneuver over New Hanover Township Airport in Montgomery County.

Brady, 32, of Doylestown, died and Chris Norton, 24, of Cherry Hill, was injured in the twilight skydiving accident, which occurred about 7:30 above the Gilbertsville section of New Hanover.

The videotape showed that the four skydivers had separated when Brady drifted in a free fall underneath Norton, also in a free fall, and opened his parachute, Township Police Sgt. Joseph Tomaselli said yesterday. Tomaselli said he believed Brady hit his head on Norton's leg.

The collision occurred 2,500 feet up, when the men would have been falling about 125 m.p.h. before opening their chutes, Tomaselli said. Brady's parachute remained open after the contact, sending him into a spin before he landed in a field less than a mile from the airport on Swamp Pike, the sergeant said.

Brady and Norton, members of the United Parachute Club, were taken to

Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, where Brady died two hours later. Norton had a fractured leg and was listed in good condition yesterday.

The cause of Brady's death had not been determined, and an autopsy was to be performed late last night, according to a spokesman with the Montgomery County Coroner's Office.

Brady is the son of Doylestown Borough Police Chief Paul Brady. Funeral arrangements had not been completed yesterday.

Brady had been a veteran skydiver, recording more than 2,000 jumps through February, Tomaselli said. Norton had recorded 185 jumps, he said.

The parachute club, based at the airport, had resumed the seasonal twilight jumps just last week, Tomaselli said.

As news of the tragedy spread yesterday, some club members were hesitant to speculate on what happened.

"It's all word of mouth at this point," said a longtime member who did not want to be identified. "It just sounds like one jumper hit another. The impact probably killed him."

"I can assure you it was a freak accident," said member Dale Nelson of Bryn Mawr. "Dan Brady was a very experienced skydiver."

Brady, an electrician, had organized and participated in a 66-person formation two weeks ago, setting a Pennsylvania record, according to Nelson.

Norton is a computer programmer, club members said.

It was common for the club to videotape its jumps with a camera mounted on a helmet, members said.

The club was organized in 1968 with 21 members and now boasts about 100

from the Philadelphia area.

The accident is the second in the club's history. In September 1983, WPVI- TV (Channel 6) weatherman Jim O'Brien was killed when his parachute became entangled with another skydiver's gear.

The club is sanctioned by the U.S. Parachute Association in Virginia, which is investigating the crash along with New Hanover police. The Federal Aviation Administration office in Allentown is expected to file a report on the crash but will not conduct its own investigation, according to an FAA spokesman.

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