msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/1/2011 9:55:56 AM ET 2011-04-01T13:55:56

Two skydivers, including a longtime instructor, fell hundreds of feet to their deaths Thursday after colliding over Perris Valley Airport in California's Riverside County, according to reports.

The men's parachutes collided and deflated some 300 to 400 feet in the air, sending the men plummeting to the ground, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.

The sheriff-coroner's office identified the men as Patrick James McGowan of Menifee and Christopher David Stasky of San Diego, both 42, according to The Associated Press.

McGowan, had worked with the airport for almost 20 years, The Press-Enterprise reported.

Scott Smith, western regional director of the U.S. Parachute Association, told the newspaper that McGowan oversaw parachuting activities at the airport.

"He had over 17,000 jumps," Smith said.

Emergency workers tried to resuscitate the men but they were pronounced dead on the scene at 4 p.m.

Smith said Stasky was helping McGowan train parachute instructors for the Canadian military.

Federal and local officials were investigating the deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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