Former Navy SEALs say deadly parachuting accidents not uncommon

Posted at 7:04 PM, Apr 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-01 19:32:14-04

Virginia Beach, Va. – Former Navy SEALs say deadly parachuting accidents are not uncommon after news of Virginia Beach based Navy SEAL Brett Shadle’s death.

Shadle died last week at a training facility in Arizona after colliding with a fellow SEAL during free-fall training.

Retired SEAL Don Mann was saddened by Senior Chief Petty Officer Brett Shadle's death, but he was not shocked that it happened.

“It's a very dangerous jumping exercise and it's not basic military jumping,” Mann said.

Mann doesn't know all the details about what happened, but he has had experience with free fall accidents before.

“I flipped through and the risers spun very fast, and hit my helmet, twisted my head this way,” he said.  “The oxygen mask came off and I thought my neck had snapped and I thought I broke my jaw.”

Mann explained one scenario that may have led to Shadle’s death.

“Sometimes a person could have a small twist, a turn, and when they pull, they're coming into another jumper and it's a terrible accident,” Mann said.

Shadle's the latest of several parachute training deaths.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Tommy Valentine died when his parachute failed to open properly during a night jump in 2008.  Weeks later, Chief Petty Officer Lance Vaccaro died doing the same sort of jump.

Mann says that may seem like a high number of deaths, but believes the training measures are solid.

“I can say this for sure.  Navy SEAL skydiving is the safest in the world,” said Mann.  “There's a saying in the SEAL teams.  Fight as you train, train as you fight.  So when you train, you're doing it like you're going to go war and you can't make training easier.”

Authorties are still investigating what caused the accident.

Shadle leaves behind a wife and two small children.


Navy identifies SEAL killed in training accident