Features | Aug 01, 2019
Skydiving Suffers Devastating Loss in Hawaii

USPA Staff

On June 28, mourners hold a traditional Hawaiian paddle-out ceremony to honor those who died in the crash.

 

Near sunset on June 21, a Beechcraft King Air crashed shortly after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield near Waialua, Hawaii, killing all 11 aboard, including pilot Jerome Renck. Oahu Parachute Center—which began operations in 2017 and is one of three drop zones located on the airport—operated the aircraft, a twin-turboprop built in 1967. The Hawaii crash was the deadliest jump plane crash in the U.S. since the September 1995 crash of a Beechcraft Queen Air near West Point, Virginia, that killed 11 on board the aircraft and one person on the ground.

The plane carried three tandem students—Nikolas Glebov, a 28-year-old from St. Paul, Minnesota; and Ashley and Bryan Weikel, a couple in their 20s who were celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. Their instructors were Daniel Herndon, D-31890; Larry Lemaster, D-21975; and James Lisenbee, D-30829. The plane also carried two videographers—Mike Martin, A-88049; and Casey Williamson, D-38233—and two other skydivers—Joshua Drablos, USPA #340210; and Jordan Tehero, USPA #303611. Shortly after the crash, an impromptu memorial to the deceased sprang up at the airport’s perimeter fence near where the plane came to rest.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which conducts independent investigations of all civil aviation accidents in the U.S., was quickly on the scene. The NTSB will perform a full investigation, including taking witness statements, looking at the pilot’s training records and the plane’s inspection and maintenance records, assessing weather conditions at the time of the incident and considering factors such as the aircraft’s weight and balance, before making a determination of cause. The NTSB is also investigating any connection to a previous incident involving the same aircraft three years ago, which resulted in significant damage to the aircraft but no fatalities. The agency isn’t likely to issue a final report on the most recent crash for another 18 to 24 months.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email at eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

On June 25, Oahu Parachute Center made the following statement on Facebook: “Oahu Parachute Center extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who perished in the catastrophic incident that occurred on June 21st. There are no words to describe the overwhelming heartbreak that we are all enduring. We are in full cooperation with HPD [the Hawaii Police Department], the FAA and the NTSB in hopes that we discover what led to this terrible event. Thank you everyone for your love and support during this time. Please continue to pray for those who perished and all who mourn them. God bless all of us during this difficult time.”

 

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