A police search has been launched for a missing skydiving instructor who got separated from his student midjump and without a parachute.
The Skydive New England instructor, identified by Wardens as 41-year-old Brett Bickford of Rochester, New Hampshire, headed out with a student for a tandem jump – where the two share one parachute – on Thursday.
The two launched their skydive around 2pm in Lebanon, Maine. But when the student reached the ground, he found himself alone and his instructor nowhere in sight.
Officials say Bickford was an experienced skydiver and is presumed dead, according to News Center Maine.
Skydive New England instructor Brett Bickford, 41, went missing during a tandem jump at 2pm on Thursday where he somehow detached from his student without a parachute. Skydive New England in Lebanon, Maine pictured above
A massive search launched by Maine game wardens, state police, and forestry officials scoured the area for more than six hours before halting it around 8.30pm Thursday
Main State Police announced Thursday afternoon that a search was launched for the missing skydiving instructor
The instructor likely detached about a mile from the ground, according to Main Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland.
The student immediately alerted Maine State Police after safely landing, concerned that he was the only one with the parachute in the landing.
McCausland added that the instructor didn’t have a backup parachute.
Investigators are scratching their heads to put together how the two, both males, got separated.
Officials say Bickford, 41 and of New Hampshire, was an experienced skydiving instructor. Skydive New England image above
Cops say Bickford detached from the student about a mile from the ground, but without a parachute and he is presumed to be dead. A Skydive New England photo showing a tandem jump above
Officials are not sure what caused the instructor and student to suddenly detach, a Skydive New England skydiver pictured above
A Skydive New England spokesperson in a release said the freefall was ‘uneventful’ and that the only incident was that the instructor went missing.
A massive search launched by Maine game wardens, state police, and forestry officials who scoured the area for more than six hours before halting it around 8.30pm Thursday, according to WGME.
The search for Bickford resumed Friday morning with K-9 officers, drones with heat-sensing capabilities, Maine State Police and Maine Warden Service’s planes, and the Maine Forest Service’s helicopter.
According to News Center Maine, Skydive New England has experienced several incidents over the past couple of years with skydivers getting injured and one person dying in 2002.
A spokesperson clarified that the incidents are small in comparison to the 20,000 skydives the company completes a season.