An 18-year-old teenager and 35-year-old man died on Sunday in a ‘freak’ skydiving accident in Atlanta as the teen was ticking off items on her bucket list before starting University.
Jeanna Triplicata of Newnan, Georgia, who turned 18 in May, wanted to get a nose ring, a small tattoo honoring her grandfather and to complete a skydive before starting at the University of North Georgia in August.
She and her grandmother went up in the plane to jump in tandem, with her father saying they were both excited to skydive for the first time.
‘That morning (Jeanna) wasn’t afraid, she wasn’t apprehensive, she was just ready to do it,’ said her father, Joey Triplicata.
Jeanna Triplicata, left, pictured with her grandmother Renee before they went up in a plane together to do a tandem skydive together, something they have both always wanted to do
Jeanna and her grandmother Renee had always been close, and they had both always wanted to skydive.
They went up in the plane together and each jumped in tandem with a professional skydiver from Skydive Atlanta.
Jeanna’s family – including her parents and her younger brother and sister, as well as a family friend – all went along to watch the skydive.
Her grandmother landed safely within view of the family, but something went tragically wrong with the parachute of Jeanna and professional skydiver Nick Esposito, and the family never them land.
Triplicata said that in the distance they could see something go wrong with a parachute ‘spinning upside down’.
‘My wife actually turned to me and said, “I hope that’s not Jeanna”.’ He said.
Employees from Skydive Atlanta drove out to the field where they saw them land, but returned to Jeanna’s family without her.
When Triplicata decided to drive out the field himself, he found a deputy at the scene. ‘It doesn’t look good,’ Triplicata heard him say.
Jeanna was ticking items off her bucket list before going to University in August. She also wanted to get a nose piercing and a tattoo commemorating her grandfather
He was later told that Jeanna did not survive the fall. Instructor Esposito also died in the accident.
‘It was the worst day of our lives,’ Triplicata told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘It doesn’t even seem real. We’re going to miss her every day for the rest of our lives.’
Deputies were called to the field on Rocky Bottom Road near the Thomaston-Upson County Airport around 12:45 p.m., Upson Sheriff Dan Kilgore said.
The sheriff said that Esposito and Jeanna were attached to a parachute rig, however ‘Upon exiting the aircraft, the primary parachute failed to open properly and went into a spin, he said in an emailed statement about the incident. ‘
The emergency parachute did not deploy until extremely low altitude and did not fully open.’
Jeanna had just graduated from Northgate High School in Newnan. ‘It was the worst day of our lives,’ her father said, recalling the tragic skydiving accident on Sunday
Skydive Atlanta said on Monday that it was working with the FAA to determine what happened, with the owner of the company saying they are ‘devastated’ by the accident.
‘Our community is devastated for both our team member and the student and their respective families,’ Skydive Atlanta owner Trey Holladay said in an emailed statement to the AJC.
‘We are all stunned and truly at a loss for words as we are a close-knit family. We have spoken with the next of kin and all are asking for privacy while we process and grieve.’
A videographer also jumped with Jeanna and Esposito to record their jump, and was not injured.
When the investigation into the accident is complete, the Triplicata family will be able to review the footage showing their daughter’s final moments.
‘I’m hoping and praying that she was just having the time of her life,’ Triplicata said.