The U.S. Army Golden Knights were scheduled for a performance in Canada, but instead, they are headed back to Fort Bragg to mourn the death of Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood, 32, of Cincinnati, Ohio. The group will have the option to meet with chaplains when they return to North Carolina. The Army is working to make sure they are mentally and physically fit to continue with the show season.
Hood was critically hurt Saturday afternoon after colliding with U.S. Navy Leap Frog Timmy Holland during a "bomb burst" demonstration, where parachutists fall with red smoke trailing from packs and then separate, creating a colorful visual in the sky.
He clipped a high-rise building in the 1400-block of North Lake Shore Drive and was knocked unconscious before falling to the ground.
"It was scary, everyone just stopped talking. It was a moment of silence. It was a true moment of silence. It was really just devastating," said Adam Weiner, a witness.
"He wasn't moving, he wasn't, you know, attempting to move out of the way or do anything. He just looked limp," said Matt Viner, another witness.
Hood was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, but died Sunday from his injuries.
Holland, 29, landed with a leg fracture along North Avenue Beach. He is expected to make a full recovery.
In the days before the show, the Leap Frogs' Facebook page shows Holland and his teammates visiting patients at Lurie Children's Hospital.
"As soldiers, there are risks every day in what we do. But you do everything you can to minimize those risks. It's extremely hard when that is not enough," U.S. Army Parachute Team Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Weinrich said in a statement Sunday.
The Army is investigating the accident. The Golden Knights have been put on "safety stand down," which cancels upcoming performances until investigators determine the cause of the accident. Leap Frog shows are also cancelled pending the Army's investigation.
Officials said they will review video from the aircraft and from the GoPro cameras the skydivers were wearing. They will examine when, from where and at what height each team member exited the aircraft. They will look into how many jumpers exited the aircraft, how far apart they jumped and what the wind speeds were that day.
Investigators plan to interview all soldiers, pilots and ground guides that were involved in the stunt. When the investigation is complete, they will determine whether procedures need to change.
Hood was a 14-year Army veteran. He logged more than 200 free fall jumps and 75 military static line jumps during his career with the parachute team, according to his Army biography. He served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned numerous awards, including two Bronze Stars. He is survived by his wife, Lyndsay.
"The Knights are a very close-knit team and the military skydiving community is equally close; we will support Corey's family and each other during this difficult time," Weinrich said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement late Sunday that he and his wife were deeply saddened by Hood's death.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and the entire Golden Knights community," Emanuel said, calling Hood "an American hero."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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