Arnaud just arrived in southern France with his family to spend some vacations. He was excited and really motivated to jump with the locals.
The weather forecast for wednesday was good for pic du Midid'Ossau on the french side of the Pyrénées so we decided to go there. Arnaud hadplanned to use his phantom 2 and this was suited to the jump (proper exit,expected glide ratio on the line ok, a few backup landings on the way, it waseven possible to complete the line under canopy if needed). Arnaud had startedbase jumping in 2004 and was an experienced jumper. He was in shape (running often and some climbing) but it was a while since his last jump.
After a short night we started to hike at 5h15. We werethe first ones that day to reach the top at 9h15. We found the exit ratherquickly, we had a rest and we decided to jump because some clouds were startingto grow. We had some north-west wind (around 10 and 15 km/h at 2880m) but theoverall conditions were excellent.
We started together (1,80m/80kgs/Phantom 2vs1,76m/64kgs/Vampire 4) and 10s later I was flying right above him but80mhigher. He looked quite low for me but I was not sure based on that kindof visual.
After 30s we reached 50% of the line, the distance between uswas around 150m at that moment and he was a bit ahead (meaning good speed forthe P2).
When we reached 75% of the line I saw him opening and halfa second later hitting some trees. I was thinking about opening as welland landing close to him but that part of the talus was not appropriate forlanding so I finished the flight and landed on the targeted field. Network wasnot available for my carrier so I went away to call the rescue team not knowing if he was ok, wounded or even worse.
He was found dead on the crash site by the rescueteam.Later on that day, I've been able to watch his footage. Rightafter the exit he was already low (Around 120m to the ground) and then he wasslowly and regularly loosing altitude. Based on the footage and the visual itwas obvious that he won't clear the end of the talus and he had plenty of timeto open safely. Unexpectedly he kept flying and going down instead of opening.He tried to open when he was around 20m from the ground.
Maybe he didn't want to hike too much to get down, maybehe was not jumping regularly enough to realize he was in a bad situationright after the exit, maybe he wanted to enjoy the ride as long as he could,maybe he had some kind of brain lock, maybe a bit of all of this, his behaviorhere is almost inexplicable. He had plenty of time to evaluate his trajectoryand to open safely but he did not do it, he waited for the last moment to openbut it was too late.
Can you help us with incident interpretation? We are interested in any details regarding personal experience, gear, weather conditions and any other circumstances related to the incident.