Name of Camp Pendleton-based Marine killed skydiving accident released by authorities

Caleb Medley died after chute failed to deploy

SAN DIEGO - Authorities on Wednesday released the name of a 26-year-old Camp Pendleton-based Marine killed in a skydiving accident in Riverside County.

Caleb Medley, of Burlington, Colo., suffered fatal injuries about 3 p.m. Tuesday when his parachute apparently failed to deploy properly and he fell into a storage yard in the 2000 block of Goetz Road, just north of Perris Valley Airport, according to the Riverside County Coroner's Office. He died at the scene.

Medley was taking part in training exercises with a group of fellow Marines at the time of his death, sheriff's Sgt. Lisa McConnell told reporters.

The circumstances of the accident were under investigation.

Buzz Fink is president of SkyDive San Diego and works with both civilian and military jumpers.

"You have to go through an approved military freefall course to be freefall certified and you have to do a certain number of jumps every year or six months or three months in order to stay qualified and current," he said.

That includes classroom and practical training, featuring safety checks and double-checks.

There are also fail-safes, such as a reserve chute to back up the main one. 

Retired Rear Adm. George Worthington is well experienced, having commanded SEAL Team One years ago. He has more than 1,600 jumps to his credit.

Worthington told 10News, "Normally during training, SEALs open at 5,000 feet and if something happens – the chute malfunctions – they go into emergency procedures, which is to release the bad parachute and pull your reserve. Most of it's automatically activated."

Fink said it is not unusual to see jump training done off-base. 

"They do jump at Camp Pendleton and they jump at other military bases also but lately, they've been having a hard time in the military getting aircraft available for them to do their jumping, so a lot of times, they will contract with a civilian airplane or civilian skydiving schools to facilitate their needs."

10News learned that 15 people have died in skydiving accidents at that airport since 2000.

Although they did not return 10News' calls, Fink says he has trust in Perris Valley Skydiving. 

"So much so that I would never have an issue with my kids jumping at that drop zone," he said. "It's a very well-run facility but it's skydiving and sometimes things do happen."

The FAA does not investigate military skydiving accidents. Though the plane was a civilian plane, the exercise was military and the FAA saw no issues with the operation of that plane.

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