Eleven people died during sport skydives in the United States during the last year, marking the lowest number of fatalities in any year since USPA began keeping records in 1961, when there were 14 fatalities. The previous low number of fatalities was 13 in 2018, and there were 15 in 2019. A complete analysis of 2020’s fatal incidents—each one a tragedy that left friends and family mourning—will appear in the April issue of Parachutist to help us all learn and avoid similar incidents in the future.
At this point, USPA is unsure whether or to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of jumps made in 2020, but we are currently gathering this data. This will allow us to determine the annual fatality index (number of fatalities per 100,000 jumps). However, initial indications are that even if jump numbers fell significantly, the fatality index will still drop. The pandemic also seemed to affect fatality causes and distribution, with eight jumpers dying—in part due to a lack of currency—during a 60-day period from mid-May to mid-July, as DZs began reopening.
Although the final data is not yet in, reaching a record low of 11 fatalities is still a remarkable milestone. USPA will soon send to all members a year-end survey that asks about jump activity, as well as other information. We urge you to complete the survey, as it will provide us with the most complete data possible to determine an accurate fatality index, as well as provide us with information that will assist us with safety and other initiatives in the coming year.