Thursday, August 6, 2009

First Thought

A man died in a skydiving accident, leaving behind an expectant wife who is 35 weeks along.

OK, so what was your first thought? Your very first thought? Go ahead, take a minute.

Here is what mine was, in all candid honesty: Eww. And then my mind wandered to how it happened, exactly, how he was found, what he looked like. Then I thought about something I often ponder, jumpers. You know, people who jump off bridges to end their life. What actually kills them? The impact, I know, but how/why? What do they look like when they're found? Then I thought of the Natchez Trace Bridge over Highway 96 near the Davidson/Williamson County line which appears to be a popular jumper spot. That made me think of people riding their bikes on the Natchez Trace and then I thought, "I should start riding my bike again." And so it went.

My husband had another first thought: Maybe the victim above wasn't skydiving himself. Perhaps in a weird Hollywood-worthy twist, he was an innocent bystander on the ground and someone dropped from the sky on top of him. That was his first thought.

What was yours? I'm asking because I was shocked at some other peoples' immediate reaction. That of accusation, wariness and a lack of sympathy. I overheard "why was he doing something so stupid in the first place?" and "why didn't his wife tell him not to do that?" "Why would he do something so risky with a baby on the way?"

Well, the answer is simple: he was doing his job. Here's the official write up --

NORFOLK, Va., Aug. 3 (UPI) -- The man killed in a skydiving accident near Middle Peninsula Regional Airport in Virginia was a U.S. Army soldier from Maryland, state police say.

Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Thomas Molnar said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Harry Parrish of Fort Meade died while taking part in a private skydiving training exercise, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot said Monday.

"The only thing I can say is that it was a training exercise and obviously something went wrong," Molnar said of Saturday's deadly accident. "I can't specifically say what right now."

Parrish's body was found in King and Queen County, Va., Sunday following a search and rescue effort.

Molnar, who confirmed the skydiving fatality was accidental, told the Virginian-Pilot the incident has been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

First impressions, hmm? Crazy stuff. I think we'd all do well to not be so quick to judge.