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Newport Beach Woman Killed in Skydiving Accident

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Brooke Baum, 33, of Newport Beach, died in a December 26, 2008 skydiving accident after her parachute failed to fully deploy during a jump at a popular skydiving center in Perris. According to this news report in The Orange County Register, Baum jumped out of an airplane at 12,500 feet above the Perris Valley Skydiving facility at Perris Valley Airport. Family members and friends said Baum was an experienced skydiver.

My heart goes out to the family of Brooke Baum for their tragic loss. I offer my deepest condolences to everyone who knew and loved this young woman. Please keep them in your prayers.

According to this newspaper report, Brooke Baum’s is the third accident involving skydivers since July and the fifth since March 2005 at this Perris skydiving facility. Baum’s friends, who were there with her at the time, are puzzled about why her parachute did not open. By the time the reserve chute opened, it was too late for Baum. Her friends also said she didn’t seem to have any medical condition and was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the accident.

It is very important to find out how and why this horrible tragedy occurred. Skydiving deaths, although widely publicized, are rare in the United States. According to the U.S. Parachute Association, its members held 2.2 million jumps in 2007 and 18 deaths occurred nationwide. If I were one of Baum’s friends or family members, I would want to know if there was something wrong with the parachute. I would definitely want that parachute preserved in its current, unopened condition so it can be carefully examined by an expert for defects.

Every parachute that is provided to skydivers is required to be tested before it is strapped on to the person. Baum’s parachute may not have opened because of a product or design defect. If that is the case, then the product manufacturer could be held liable. If the Perris Valley Skydiving Center failed to adequately test or maintain these parachutes, then they could be held responsible. I’m curious about how well the standards and procedures were followed for testing the primary and reserve parachutes in this skydiving accident, especially because this is the third accident in the last five months.

I’d urge Baum’s family to contact a reputed Orange County personal injury lawyer, who is experienced in successfully dealing with wrongful death claims and product liability claims. A skilled personal injury attorney will be able to determine who or what caused the accident, hold the negligent parties responsible and secure fair compensation for the victim’s family.

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