Marine Dies on Vacation Wife Won on Ellen

Brandon McGraw dead in Australian skydiving accident

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 19, 2013 10:22 AM CST

(Newser) – A Marine and his wife were in Australia last week on a trip they won on Ellen DeGeneres' show in January, but it ended in tragedy when the Marine was killed in a skydiving accident. Cherilyn McGraw made a tandem jump in Euroa, north of Melbourne, on Saturday, but husband Brandon had skydiving experience and jumped solo, the Daily News reports. Something went wrong with his parachute 300 feet from the ground, causing him to twist and turn and ultimately crash; he went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene. An employee of Euroa Skydive says Brandon had more than "a few jumps under his belt," as well as training and documentation, and that most of his jump went flawlessly. Australian media have cited high winds as a possible factor.

McGraw, 33, had recently come back from a deployment in Afghanistan, and was also an Iraq war veteran, the New York Daily News reports. His wife, a special education teacher in their home state of North Carolina, won the trip by competing in a "Stuff Your Down Under Pants" contest on Ellen, managing to stuff the most balls into a large pair of pants. McGraw's Facebook page shows he was a fan of extreme sports including skydiving, and a Marine Corps captain confirms to confirms to WCTI that McGraw was highly trained. Following his death, Cherilyn posted pictures to Facebook taken moments before her husband's jump, saying he "was happy and doing what he loved" when he died.

Ellen DeGeneres attends the Ellen DeGeneres officially launches the Duracell Power a Smile Program, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles.
Ellen DeGeneres attends the Ellen DeGeneres officially launches the Duracell "Power a Smile" Program, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, at Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Ellen Degeneres accepts the award for  favorite daytime TV host at the People?s Choice Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday Jan. 9, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Ellen Degeneres accepts the award for favorite daytime TV host at the People?s Choice Awards at the Nokia Theatre on Wednesday Jan. 9, 2013, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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