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SAVANNAH, GA. — An Army Ranger was found dead on the ground with parachute cords wrapped around his neck after a routine training jump in southeast Georgia and commanders hope an investigation will reveal what went wrong, a military spokesman said Friday.
The fatal jump occurred Thursday afternoon as Rangers stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah conducted parachute drills at a training range on nearby Fort Stewart, where the elite soldiers practice jumping from planes several times a year.
The soldier’s parachute appeared to deploy normally during the jump and nothing seemed wrong until he landed and wind filled the parachute’s canopy, dragging the soldier about 350 feet along the ground, said Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning. He said by the time fellow Rangers reached the soldier, he was unconscious with parachute cords and canvas straps from the harness wrapped around his neck. Soldiers cut away the cords but were unable to revive him.
“We’re not sure what caused the parachute to do this,” DeSantis said. “It’s something we’ve never seen before.”
Military officials are trying to determine if the soldier became entangled in the air or after he hit the ground. Even wearing a helmet, DeSantis said, it’s possible he was knocked unconscious after landing and got twisted in the cables as the parachute began to drag him.
An autopsy was planned for the soldier, whose name was being withheld Friday pending notification of relatives. He belonged to the Ranger regiment’s 1st Battalion based at the Savannah Army post.