A New Hampshire skydiving instructor intentionally took his own life by undoing his harness during a tandem jump, police say.
On September 27, Brett Bickford, 41, was in the middle of a dive with a student when he became separated and fell to his death, The Eagle-Tribune reported.
The incident took place in Maine, where Bickford had been an instructor with Skydive New England for at least 10 years.
Just one day after the tragic incident, Bickford’s body was found 750 feet southwest of the Lebanon Airport runway, The Tribune reported.
Since his death, police have been conducting a two-month-long investigation in hopes of finding out how such an experienced instructor’s harness would mysteriously loosen while in the air.
Skydiving experts have found it nearly impossible for Bickford’s death to be an accident as they claim no instructor at his level would make that mistake, Spokesman for the Main Department of Public Safety Steve McCausland explained to The Press Herald.
The Press Herald also reported that the State Medical Examiner’s Office has also ruled Bickford’s fall a suicide.
“Bickford, an instructor at Skydive New England, was jumping with a second man at the time. Investigators concluded that Bickford loosened his harness in midair and it was an intentional act,” police said in a statement obtained by The New York Post.
The student, who has not been named, landed safely and is unharmed, The Press Herald reported.
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According to Skydive St Andrews, tandem jumps are typically done with the student and instructor in separate harnesses. The instructor wears the parachute and guides the jump. It is not clear but it appears Bickford attached the parachute to his student instead.
In addition to being a skydiving instructor, Bickford had a private pilot’s license, a drone license and was a member of the US Parachute Association and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, according to his obituary.
Last month on Oct. 26, Bickford’s brother Jason Bickford opened up about his death on what would have been his 42nd birthday.
“I’m thankful for being able to grow up with him and to have such an amazing person to look up to and just watch how he lived life. He amazed me at everything he did and was always great at anything he felt was worth his time,” Jason wrote on Facebook.
“He was the most unique person I have ever known, one who made choice because it was what he wanted, never because it was what someone else wanted or expected and I will envy that part of Brett for the rest of my life.”
“You are missed every day, and will be loved forever,” Jason concluded.
Skydive New England did not immediately respond for PEOPLE’s request for comment.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).