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Ottawa firefighter dead after skydiving at Arnprior airport: fire services

OFS fire chief Paul Hutt identified the victim as Jeffrey Dean, a husband and father of two children.
2017 Ottawa Fire Services logo1
Ottawa Fire Service crest. File photo

Ottawa Fire Services (OFS) has confirmed a firefighter has died while skydiving at the Arnprior airport on Wednesday, July 27. 

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said officers from the Renfrew detachment responded to a skydiving accident at the airport west of Ottawa around 1 p.m. 

Police say a 45-year-old from Fitzroy Harbour, Ont., was pronounced dead at the scene. 

OFS fire chief Paul Hutt identified the victim as Jeffrey Dean, a husband and father of two children.

Hutt says Dean joined the fire service as a volunteer firefighter in 2010 before moving to full-time in 2012. 

"He was a dedicated volunteer with our Fire Venturers Program," Hutt said in a release. "A program developed in 2018 for youths aged 14-17 with an interest in Firefighting who participate in Fire Services programming."

"I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and his fire family during this difficult time," he said. 

The Renfrew County Paramedic Service (RCPS) immediately dispatched an ambulance and a Community Paramedic unit was in the vicinity as was the on-duty commander who all responded minutes after the OPP arrived.

Chief Michael Nolan of the RCPS said there are some unknowns when responding to this type of incident.

“When we receive a call for a skydiving incident we have no idea initially how many people are involved so we dispatch multiple units in the event we are dealing with multiple casualties over a wide area,” he said. “In this case there was only fatality and it is sad when these events happen. On behalf of our service we extend our deepest sympathies involved.”

Nolan said upon arrival Dean was unconscious and although the paramedics spent several minutes attempting to revive him, he succumbed to his injuries shortly thereafter.

Neither a spokesperson for Parachute Ottawa, the company that owns and operates the business, or a representative from the Arnprior Airport were  commenting on the incident at this time.

Chief Nolan added it is rare to respond to skydiving incidents since there have been very few in the area over the years. He said when paramedics respond to a skydiving scene, there are often catastrophic scenes and paramedics, along with bystanders, and those directly involved with the event can be “triggered” by the event and can be psychologically affected.

“Whenever we have a significant event, and skydiving fatalities is a significant event,” he said. “We have a debrief with our crews and that allows any concerns to be raised,” he said. “We go on a case-by-case basis, and sometimes a crew member may step away voluntarily. Skydiving, like any rugged high-intensity activity, comes with inherent risks and sometimes tragic events like this take place. And sometimes it can effect some of those involved.”

Police say they are investigating.

With files from Bruce McIntyre. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2022. 



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