Army: 4 soldiers hurt in Ohio parachuting accident

Associated Press
First Lieutenant Kimberly Snow of the National Guard public affairs office answers questions at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, about four soldiers who were injured at the airport after they parachuted from a plane during an airborne training operation, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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Four soldiers parachuting from a plane during an airborne training operation were injured Wednesday when they caught a wind gust and hit the ground hard, officials said.

Three of the soldiers suffered possible mild concussions, while the fourth complained of a strained neck muscle after landing at Rickenbacker International Airport, said David Johnson, a spokesman for the Army Reserve 412th Civil Affairs Battalion in Columbus. The injured soldiers were taken to local hospitals.

The three Army Reserve paratroopers and one Ohio National Guard special forces paratrooper were taking part in a routine monthly jump that had 56 soldiers parachuting 1,250 feet from a C-130 military cargo plane, Johnson said.

The Ohio National Guard said the men jumped at about 1 p.m. from a plane that had flown from Pittsburgh.

The injured men "caught some extra wind and landed hard," Johnson said. "The wind will catch it and the parachute won't deflate, and the paratrooper keeps going," getting dragged.

Wind speeds at the airport at the time were 15 mph, with gusts up to 22 mph, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeffrey Sites. He said such speeds are not significant but would feel breezy.

One of the men landed on the airport tarmac, while the other three came down on the grass. The injured soldiers were ages 26 to 45.

Hard landings are not uncommon during the monthly jumps, but the injuries are usually less serious, like sprained ankles and scrapes, Johnson said.

Rickenbacker is home to an Air National Guard base. It is mainly a cargo airport that also has a charter passenger terminal, and it is south of Columbus' main airport, Port Columbus International Airport.

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Associated Press writers Doug Whiteman and JoAnne Viviano contributed to this report.

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