Dimitri Didenko reportedly died after his parachute malfunctioned while competing in the Virtual Australian Skydiving championships

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 18, 2021 04:48 PM
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Dimitri Didenko
Credit: Instagram

Skydiving enthusiast Dimitri Didenko reportedly died this weekend after his parachute failed to open while he participated in a competition in Western Australia.

According to Australia's 9News, the 30-year-old was in Australia's Jurien Bay on Sunday for the 2021 Virtual Australian Skydiving Championships, which was held at different locations across the country over two weekends this month and streamed online.

Didenko jumped with his wingsuit just after 1 p.m. local time, the outlet reported, and his parachute deployed incorrectly when attempting to land. He died as a group of about 20 friends watched his flight from the ground, the outlet said.

"The [man] who unfortunately lost his life was a veteran of skydiving, 6,000 jumps," Leslee Holmes, president of Dandaragan Shire — where Jurien Bay is located — told Australia's ABC News. "The first responders, and the [people] who had to witness this, it must be absolutely chilling."

"For the town of Jurien Bay and the Shire of Dandaragan, this is our premium business, we attract so many people to the town," the president added.

The Australian Parachute Federation is investigating Didenko's death, WA Today reported. The last fatal skydive in the region occurred four years ago when three people collided mid-air.

The Australian Parachute Federation did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment.

While wingsuits allow the user to glide through the air for long distances — as opposed to temporarily entering freefall, like in traditional skydiving — parachutes are deployed toward the end of a dive to help jumpers land. While some wingsuit jumpers have successfully landed without the use of a parachute, many have used objects or water to break their fall. Skydiver Gary Connery used hundreds of cardboard boxes during a jump in 2012.

Friends paid tribute to Didenko over social media, with one sharing a black and white picture of him on Instagram.

"With you, nothing was normal, quiet, boring," Alex Ricci wrote in a translated post. "You always managed to raise the level, even for a simple game of cards."

"You leave an incredible void," he added.

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In a translated post on Instagram featuring a picture of Didenko in his flight gear, skydiver M.G. Franco wrote: "Fly high... we will miss your amazing madness. Blue skies!"Aside from wingsuit flying, Virtual Nationals Skydiving Championships also included competitions in canopy formation, formation skydiving, vertical formation skydiving and speed skydiving.