Skydiver killed in Calif. had tried to set record

/ Source: The Associated Press

A skydiver killed during a jump this week had tried earlier in the day to set a parachuting record in a charity event, friends and officials said Thursday.

Stephen Millard Harrington, 40, of Boston was pronounced dead Wednesday after landing in a driveway in this Riverside County bedroom community, about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Harrington died during a late-afternoon jump he made for fun with four other skydivers. Hours before that, he had taken part in a successful jump by 68 people trying to set a U.S. record for formations of parachutists wearing wingsuits — special jumpsuits with panels stretching under the arms and between the legs that allow skydivers to stay longer in free fall and provide greater maneuverability.

The jump raised $5,000 for a Los Angeles charity, said Eli Bolotin of Raise the Sky, the nonprofit Massachusetts-based group that sponsored the event.

The jump was expected to be officially certified as a record by the United States Parachute Association, he added.

Adam Wright, his longtime companion in Boston, said Harrington text-messaged him after the jump to say he was excited about breaking a record.

During the fatal jump, Harrington may have struck the tail of the plane, Wright said.

"There was a laceration on his chin — and so, it was probably his chin that hit the plane and it probably knocked him unconscious, although that's not clear," Wright said.

Harrington, an experienced skydiver, spent months preparing for the event.

"Skydiving in general was very important to him and he was a very charitable person," Wright said.