Parachute deaths were 'negligence'

The parachute training jump mishap that killed two police cadets in Phetchaburi on March 31 was no accident, an official probe concluded on Tuesday, but was caused by substandard maintenance of the cable used to deploy the chutes.

Investigators concluded that the anchor line cable inside the aircraft, to which each parachutist attaches his static line, broke off from its points of attachment. The anchor line is crucial to automatically open parachutes of the jumpers.

“The anchor line was remade, reassembled and modified from material that was not genuine”, said Pol Gen Jaramporn Suramanee, an adviser to the Royal Thai Police Office. He revealed the results of the investigation at a news conference held at Office of Forensic Science on Tuesday. 

Irregularities were also found in the hookup devices that attach and hold the anchor line to the body of the aircraft, and adjust tension, he said.

He said the maintenance of the anchor line was clearly substandard. "The cable appeared to have been cut and welded instead of being replaced with a new one. There were burn marks at one end of the cable", presumably from the welding torch.

Two police cadets died during the jump at the Naresuan camp in Phetchaburi's Cha-am district. The parachutes of Chayakorn Putthachaiyong, 19, and Nathawuth Tirasuwannasuk, 21, failed to open automatically. Four other jumpers of the six-man stick managed to pull their reserve chutes and survived the mishap.

"We concluded the incident was not a coincidence or an accident but was a result of recklessness and carelessness by the maintenance professionals" of the aircraft involved in the deadly jump, Pol Gen Jaramporn said. 

Forensic police will forward the findings to investigators and a police fact-finding committee with an eye to bring charges against those responsible for causing deaths by their recklessness.  

Pol Gen Jaramporn added he had informed the families of the dead cadets of the results of the probe on Monday, and they had told him they plan to file civil and criminal lawsuits against those responsibe for the deaths, in order to prevent a repeat.

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