AN experienced skydiver has suffered serious injuries after landing without his main parachute open at an airfield near Nelson.
Festival goers saw the man, a 35-year-old from Taupo, hit the ground hard at the Motueka Aerodrome.
It happened in the middle of a week-long skydiving festival.
Witnesses Georgie and Kim Eschweiler said they watched as the man’s main parachute floated away to the south.
He landed hard on the airport’s southern side behind some hangars.
”He came down fast and hit the ground full blast,” Eschweiler told The Nelson Mail.
Skydive Abel Tasman owner Stuart Bean said the injured skydiver jumped from 13,000 ft and opened his parachute at 4000 ft.
Bean said the man chose to discard his main chute after problems with one of his lines meant he ”was turning and had lost directional control” and could not steer.
His emergency chute then opened automatically at about 750ft, police said.
Bean said the skydiver would have been ”going faster than you would like” when he hit the ground.
He was treated by a doctor at the scene before emergency services arrived.
”We were told his injuries are not life threatening,” Bean said.
”It’s our intention to continue with the festival after everyone has had a breather,” said Bean.
”It’s very disturbing when one of us hurts ourselves. But he is a skydiver and would want us to carry on.”
The man had done more that 1000 jumps, and 10 to 20 at the festival, and was well known in the small skydiving community.
“Everybody is really sad for him. We just wish him well and hope he gets well really soon.”
He suffered internal chest and internal abdominal injuries, and possibly spinal compression and lumbar fractures.
He was in an awful amount of pain, and was conscious throughout, an ambulance spokesperson said.