SEBASTIAN — An experienced skydiver died in Sebastian Monday morning after officers said he was attempting to avoid another jumper during a landing.
Christian Stevens, 49, of Canton, Georgia, was transported to Sebastian River Medical Center just after 10 a.m., according to Sebastian Police Department spokesman Lt. Timothy Wood.
Professional jumping group Team Fastrax, which was training at Skydive Sebastian, decided to jump at the same time as Monday’s scheduled SpaceX launch, according to an announcement of Stevens’ death on the team’s Facebook page Monday evening.
The team performed a routine called a nine-way diamond as the rocket took off, the team said. Stevens named the jump, calling it “Falcon9” in honor of the launch.
Stevens, who had approximately 20 years of skydiving experience and served as an instructor, was avoiding another jumper and impacted the ground “at a high rate of speed,” Wood said.
He was later pronounced dead by hospital medical staff, Wood said.
He said the Sebastian Police Department will work with the Federal Aviation Administration on the investigation.
More: Skydivers practice for the USPA National Parachuting Championships at Skydive Sebastian
“Unfortunately our teammate lost his life this morning on a bad landing after this jump,” the Fastrax team announced.
Dubbed “America’s Skydiving Team,” Fastrax is the only civilian parachute demonstration team to perform over Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Independence Hall, according to the team’s website.
Based out of Ohio, the team roster has more than 40 active members, according to the Fastrax site. Team members could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Up until Stevens’ death, the team had a successful “Fastrax Winter Training Camp,” according to the group’s post.
Skydive Sebastian, the local business at 400 Airport Drive W. in Sebastian, brings thousands of adventure-seekers to the area each year.
A Fastrax demonstration at Skydive Sebastian was cancelled Sunday due to high winds and rain in the forecast, according to the company’s Facebook page.
The Sebastian business would not comment on Monday’s accident, stating that all available information was shared in the Fastrax post on Facebook.
In January of last year, a skydiver was rushed to the hospital after a rough landing near the Sebastian Municipal Airport. Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Kyle Kofke said the skydiver came down hard in a pond at the landing zone.
More: Three Treasure Coast law enforcement agencies team up to arrest ‘violent’ man wanted since 2018, IRCSO says
“Christian was a solid American that served our nation as an Army Ranger, a loving Father, a devoted Husband and a Teammate that was our Brother,” the team wrote Monday evening.
The announcement went on: “We love you Christian Stevens!”
Support local journalism and become a subscriber.
Max Chesnes is a TCPalm breaking news reporter for Indian River County. You can keep up with Max on Twitter @MaxChesnes and give him a call at 772-978-2224.