National News

Golden Knights continue training after serious parachuting accident

Posted February 12, 2019 9:44 a.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2019 8:18 a.m. EST

— One of the three Fort Bragg soldiers, members of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights parachute team, injured in a training accident in south Florida has recovered enough to be released from the hospital, the Army said in a statement Friday.

Two others remain in critical condition, being treated for injuries they received during the overnight military training exercise at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami-Dade County, where their training takes place during the winter months.

The accident happened around 4 a.m. Tuesday, while the group was performing a low-altitude jump.

According to Kelli Bland, a spokesperson for the US Army Recruiting Command, the soldiers were training for an upcoming night-time demonstration. It is believed the soldiers may have collided in the sky, but that remains under investigation.

Bland said that, immediately following the accident on Feb. 12, the entire Golden Knights team ceased training operations. After a comprehensive safety analysis, the team will resume airborne training operations on Tuesday.

Immediately after their arrival at Ryder Trauma Center on Tuesday, one soldier was seen moving his arms and legs, another could bend his arms above his head and the third kept his hands and arms folded on his chest.

Right now, Bland says the Army is making sure they get the best possible treatment.

"Checking in on them and making sure that we're taking care of them and taking care of their families," she said.

In Aug. 2018, Elizabeth Gardner, along with two coworkers, was invited to skydive with the Golden Knights parachute team. Each was paired with a soldier and got to experience and better understand the training, discipline and thrills behind the world-class unit, which is headquartered in Fort Bragg.

Just weeks after the exciting experience, a Golden Knight died in Georgia in a plane crash. He was off-duty at the time of the crash.

The Golden Knights team of almost 100 men and women performs parachute stunts alongside other members from all branches of the Army. The Knights include four parachute units, an aviation unit and the Fort Bragg headquarters.

U.S. Army soldiers began skydiving in 1959, when the sport was new. By 1962, the team was nicknamed the "Golden Knights."

According to the Golden Knights website, the team has conducted more than 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries, reaching an average of 60,000 people per show. The team has earned the U.S. Army thousands of gold, silver and bronze medals and has broken 348 world records.