Sad end for a man who loved skydiving

Arkady Shenker of Brooklyn, N.Y., fell to his death Sunday after leaving from Williamstown. He had made more than 350 jumps.
Arkady Shenker of Brooklyn, N.Y., fell to his death Sunday after leaving from Williamstown. He had made more than 350 jumps.
Posted: April 23, 2014

SEWELL A Brooklyn, N.Y., man who died Sunday in Sewell during a skydiving jump loved the sport so much that he was willing to risk death, his son said.

Arkady Shenker was to turn 50 this week.

Instead, his son, Alex, 24, said his family is preparing for services to honor the husband and father of two who loved adventure.

"Whatever hardships he had in life, they just melted away after a couple of jumps," his son said. "To him, the danger was just danger. He said, if he ever goes, that's the way he wanted to go. I guess he got his wish."

Shenker, as he had hundreds of times before, boarded a plane with Freefall Adventures in Williamstown, Gloucester County. He was wearing a "wing suit" that skydivers use to create a gliding experience before deploying a parachute.

Twice on Sunday, he jumped successfully.

The third time, his son said, he became tangled in the parachute and was unable to deploy a second parachute as he descended at a high speed.

Witnesses told authorities they saw the skydiver spiraling in a residential area where skydivers usually are not seen.

About 2 p.m., rescue crews were called to the 100 block of Tuckahoe Road, where a family had been celebrating Easter with an egg hunt for the children. Shenker was taken to Kennedy University Hospital in Washington Township, where he was pronounced dead at 3:38 p.m.

Bernie Weisenfeld, spokesman for the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office, said Shenker was an experienced skydiver with 350 jumps, and frequently went up with Freefall Adventures.

On Sunday, he arrived alone and boarded the plane with 15 others. It was the fourth load of skydivers that day that flew from Cross Keys Airport, where Freefall is located. The company resumed skydiving activities after the accident.

A woman at the company on Monday said officials there had no comment. In recent years, there have been at least two other skydiving deaths. In 2011, C. Scott Shields, mayor of Rutledge, Delaware County, died while parachuting with Freefall.

Local authorities called the Federal Aviation Administration, which investigates skydiving incidents. An official there said the investigation was continuing.

Alex Shenker said that the family gave his father a gift certificate to skydive about five years ago and that it became his passion.

"My mother said it was not only the adrenaline for him, it was the adventure of seeing the world," said the younger Shenker, who went with his father one time. He never went again because, he said, it felt dangerous. "It was like one would expect. It was a whole new world. We're used to the floor under our feet."

Shenker immigrated to the United States in 2000. His family lived in Israel for two years after leaving Ukraine. The family came to the United States to reunite with relatives here, Alex Shenker said.

His father worked as a computer programmer for a television station, and was taking acupuncture classes to start his own business.

In addition to skydiving, Shenker was an expert in martial arts, his son said. When he was younger, his son said, his father played violin. Shenker encouraged his son to do the same, and supported him to pursue a career as a violinist, citing his son's talent.

In addition to his son Alex, Shenker is survived by another son, Gene, and his wife, Larrisa.


bboyer@phillynews.com

856-779-3838 @BBBoyer

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|