Report: Jumpmaster’s Failure to Check Static Line Kills Soldier

Sgt. Shaina SchmigelAn Army investigation into the death of Sgt. Shaina Schmigel found that a jumpmaster did not properly inspect the paratrooper’s line before the jump that killed her last year, according to an Army Times report.

Army Times reporter Kyle Jahner obtained the investigation through a Freedom of Information Act. The investigators said the failure to check the line was the “single most definitive failure,” according to the report.

Schmigel died from lacerations to the throat and a broken neck after she became entangled in another paratrooper’s parachute. Investigators wrote in their report about the final moments before Schmigel left the aircraft:

“When Sgt. Schmigel’s static line was fully extended to the portion of the static line just above the curve pin protective cover … her static line became wedged beneath her main curve pin protective flap because it was misrouted in such a manner to catch both corners of the main curve pin protective flap. As a result, Sgt. Schmigel’s full body weight was causing the main curve pin protector flap grommet to be pressed against her main curve pin which interrupted her T-11 parachute’s deployment sequence,” according to the report published in Army Times.

Schmigel likely collided with the following paratrooper and became entangled in the soldier’s chute, according to the investigation findings.

The Army’s investigative team did not find any criminal wrong doing, but investigators recommended permanently decertifying one of the jumpmasters who served as a safety, according to Army Times. The jumpmaster did not attend the briefing before the operation and his training was not current “at the time of the jump,” according to the report.

The training jump was conducted by the 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

  • rip young lady

    jumpin every three month for pay is real issue,you’re jumpin 3-4 times a year and just askin for trouble

    • Hank May

      Airborne Infantry may have to blast more we had Blue Chip exercises in our day.
      Ps I had proberms with a left backward PLF,
      , forward right was my favorite but the wind always blew me in the left backward direction. We blasted Sicily at Bragg and bastonge at Campbell . I am still playing a Violin which is in the a string section.

      God Bless everybody
      Old wind Rider c119,c130, and c141

      • Hank May

        Above the rest and no slack,but my last blast was off of a track.
        God Bless everybody

  • Stefan S.

    Retired 24 year SOF Master Jumpmaster. Training not current? Didn’t attend the JM meeting? Didn’t inspect the static line? Here is a soldier who shouldn’t have been made a jumpmaster. Too many times as an instructor I failed students for masking the static line or failure to inspect. This sadly could have been avoided. RIP trooper!

    • Larry R.

      As A Fire Capt. and in the Fire Service for 37 years, I agree the Jump Master should be up to date or else in class to be current, we repel off 100′ walls, we are responsible to check our knots and the person before us and the one behind us, I have never Jumped from a perfect plane so I don’t know your rule or pretend too, Let’s hope this accident can teach and find better ways and that she didn’t give her life up in vine. RIP, and may God Bless Her and her Family and Friends

  • Leon Suchorski

    Regretfully, this should not have happened. The reason that there is a jumpmaster is to avoid problems like this. This sounds like it will go up for man slaughter. The jumpmaster did not take care of his troops.

  • JohnD

    And the jumper behind her in the stick! Who,would let an unqualified JM sign the paperwork? More than the JM needs to swing on this negligent act!

  • guest

    No criminal negligence?? That must be a real slap in the face to the people who loved her.

  • artymgysgt

    Seems like a lot of negligence took place here from the top down to the unqualified jump master who was acting as safety.

  • George Brumley

    Its easy to post blame when we were not there, However, if he did not do his job then let the chips fall where they need and the guilty get their just rewards.
    We as former jumpers all know to well the hazards involved and safety is most important.
    My condolences to the family and friends of the lost trooper.

  • Maniac

    As a safety he should only be able to handle the static lines in the planes as the jumpers exited the plane. If you didn’t attend the jumpmaster pre jump you shouldn’t have been jmpi’ing anyone. Cherry epic fail @1jump

  • william

    i jumped 50 years ago, still hurts to read something like this.

  • ricardo

    i like what george said that is so true.

  • Super Chez

    ok as a former jumpmaster and instructor at the army airborne school, we as jumpmasters take all responsiblities for any actions in the aircraft. There needs to be a camera installed inside the a/c when performing airborne operations this will help with the investigations for any mishaps. Airborne!

  • Dale

    Our prayers are going out to the family of our dearly beloved paratrooper, 82nd all the way.

  • Mattrhew

    The command or instruction to check static line jumper duty.

  • Things to Change

    Jump Master? Prerequisites?? I wanna go is the ONLY prerequisite. Star Gazers and Wreath Chasers should be done away with, unless ONLY jumps with UNIT count toward goals. RIP

  • Charlie Gulf

    Free falling is better than stick.

  • Paul M. Elliott

    As a former Jumpmaster and last time Jumping in 1967 just before a tour in Vietnam this is the way it was done in the days gone bye. The jumpmaster of the aircraft has ultimate responsibility of the paratroopers jumping the aircraft. There usually were two safety NCO’s that were Jumpmaster Qualified that assisted the Jumpmaster. The Jumpmaster would inspect all the paratroopers with a rigors check before boarding the aircraft. Once on the aircraft and preparing to jump the Jumpmaster gave series of jump commands of which one was, ” check static lines”. At that time the jumper checked his static line connection to the anchor cable and the jumper behind checked the routing of the static line. Then the Safety NCO would give one last check of all the jumpers static lines before the green light and the command, “Go” .We as Jumpmasters relied heavily on our Safety NCO’s to insure that all the jumpers were ready to exit the aircraft as safely as possible. Under these procedures this type of incident was unheard of.
    You will have to draw your own conclusion as to who is at fault. None of us were there so we don’t know what actually took place. I join all of you in morning a fellow jumper, may she rest in peace. Jumping is Hazardous duty. SGM US Army Retired

    • Devil Doc

      Ah, yes, I thought another jumper, next in line, did a buddy check right before or after “hook up”.

  • Charlie Gulf

    The T-11, T10 are chest chutes aren’t they and are used when there’s a malfunction of the main chute which is generally worn on the back? Isn’t the static line snap hook sighted by the jumper behind the other for proper hook up before exiting the aircraft? Now, if the static line has a lot of slack between the last pack fold and the snap’s hooking point it can get caught in the wind’s draft, getting airborne, twirling, fluttering in an erratic fashion, wrapping around her heck as she exit the aircraft??? The dynamics in a full opened/deployed parachute would not have caused a serious injury if impacted by another jumper, even from a free fall mode, the chute would partially collapse or cause a bump/bounce off .Parachute rigger/packer and jumper (ASM)- Naval Parachute School Lakehurst New Jersey.

    • Airborne

      T-10 and T-11 are the main chutes. Reserve is reserve.

  • Jose CLaudio

    We are investigators now after the incident, first, let get the her family our Paratrooper Condolescenses for the loss of a love daughter and a future Jump master. Secondly, the chain of Command should held liable for allowing that non-current jumpmaster execute some inappropriate tasking. He did what he has to do under the Chain of Command. That is the reason the accident happened. Another thing we have to look at is this the Army and the Air Force tells you once you out the door is on you Airborne. If she was entangle with another Paratrooper lines, she already cleared the Paratroop door, so the safety jumpmaster duties were done. Anyways, RIP Airborne. Amen.

  • Mike Curtis

    Not to assume anything, and just going with the findings of the investigation, it appears this accident could have been avoided. Yes accidents happen, but it appears procedures/pre-jump checks were missed in this case. At the end of the day “a” Jumpmaster is responsible and should be held accountable. If it is true that this particular JM was not current there it is negligence that now needs to be addressed by the Command/Leadership. My condolences to the family and RIP Airborne!


    Bottom line, it was the Chain of Command responsibility and accountability (Captain, 1SG, and Air Operations NCOIC). The jumpmaster should or must not involved in this airborne operations because he is not current in his jumpmaster duties and training..

  • arrowrod

    Huh? When I was jumping, we hooked up our own static lines. How can you fuck that up?

    Remember? Stand up, hook up, check your equipment, stand in the door?
    Yeah, you can make the jumpmaster responsible, but how is he or she going to review all of the troopers actions in the few seconds from stand up to “green light”.

    • Rakkasan (’53-’54)

      You got it right arrowrod! That’s how I remember it. Fort Benning “52! All the Way!
      Rest in Peace Trooper. Condolences to the family.

  • Airborne_fister

    As a former rigger. It sounds like ⅓ jumper error. ⅓ rigger error. And finally ⅓ jump master error. If the rigger has only packed only T-10’s or MC1-1D then you throw him/her a t-11. And they are on the job trained. That’s wrong. But if the paratrooper has only ever jumped a T-10 then you hand her a T-11. Bad on you. And finally if a jump master has only JMPIed a T-10 then you should stand aside and get a refresher or what ever you get before you get the T-11 jump master. But the real problem is why would you ever say this is one. Jump masters fault. I bet he/her checked a few hundred paratroopers and became comfortable in the line. But the real problem is that is if a paratrooper decides that their rig is not fit to jump they are pulled off the stick. Then a jump master goes over their equipment. Then a rigger. If nothing is found the you get in huge trouble. I think it should be you think your gear is wrong then sit it out. Or get a second opinion. I have done that before. Had an old crusty guy check my gear he skipped steps so I let him sign off on my helmet. Then I ran over to my buddy stepped behind a truck with him and got a second JMPI.

    • Fdny

      I had a chute I didn’t like, rigger takes his shove tool and pushes the part of the chute that’s hanging out back in. I told him I’m not using that chute, I just got another one. No problem. I didn’t care he didn’t like it. He can jump with it if he wanted

  • Jim Leinen

    Yes arrowrod..I was with 508th ARCT ’51-’54 at Benning. Memory fading, but if correct, a troopers death was attributable to suicide when found he must have unhooked just prior to jumping. Procedure was to keep a hand on the hook till in the door. Subsequently, a remedial/mandatory cotter key/hook type arrangement was initiated.
    I believe a Jump Zone was named after the deceased (Dunn Field maybe) Too long ago.

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