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Ranger's parachute death under investigation

Jun. 17, 2013 - 05:39PM   |  
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A team from the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center is investigating an apparent parachuting mishap that killed an Army Ranger who had just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.

Pfc. Christopher P. Dona, 21, was found dead Thursday after an airborne proficiency jump at Fort Stewart, Ga.

Dona, who was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., was found on Taylors Creek Drop Zone. He was unconscious and without a pulse, according to a news release from U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The Associated Press has reported Dona was found with parachute cords and canvas straps from a harness wrapped around his neck. An Army spokesman also said Dona’s parachute seemed to work normally during the jump, according to the AP. When he landed, wind filled the parachute’s canopy, dragging Dona about 350 feet along the ground, the AP reported.

The team of investigators from the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, which is made up of experts in safety, maintenance, operations and training, will lead the investigation into the mishap, spokesman Michael Negard said.

The investigators’ mission is to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident and make recommendations to prevent future accidents, he said.

Parachute accidents are uncommon, with the most recent one occurring in 2010, Negard said.

The goal is not to assign blame, Negard said, but to identify lessons learned and recommend “preventive measures for the future.”

“If we can glean something that can prevent the mishap from happening again or duplicating itself, that’s the goodness of it,” he said.

Dona, who joined the Army in January 2012, was remembered as a “true warrior.”

“Chris was an excellent Ranger who consistently displayed great courage and strength,” Lt. Col. Robert J. Harman, commander of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, said in a statement. “He was the kind of Ranger everyone wants by their side in a tough situation.”

Dona had just returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan last month.

He is survived by his parents.

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