Jeanna Triplicata's parents and siblings gathered to see the 18-year-old complete her first skydive on Sunday. They then watched from the ground in Thomaston, Ga., as Triplicata and veteran skydive instructor Nick Esposito somersaulted in the sky, a parachute spinning wildly behind them. "Upon exiting the aircraft, the primary parachute failed to open properly and went into a spin," Upson County Sheriff Dan Kilgore says, per CNN. He adds that an emergency parachute was deployed at an extremely low altitude and didn't completely open. Both Triplicata and Esposito were pronounced dead in a field near Thomaston-Upson County Airport, where Skydive Atlanta operates. It was hours after the jump that family members learned Triplicata had been in the accident. They were still waiting for her near the airport when somebody mentioned seeing police lights.
"This pain is nearly unbearable," Triplicata’s father, Joey, tells CNN. It was only Triplicata's second time on a plane. The previous time she was an infant. "She wanted to just see how things look up in the air that high," he says. "It was supposed to be a great, great day and it turned out to be the worst day of our lives." Meanwhile, Kristina Esposito is mourning her partner of 10 years, whom she guesses completed up to 5,000 jumps throughout his life. "He just put everyone else first," she tells the Macon Telegraph. "His goal in life was to make sure everyone had a really good time." The sheriff's office is investigating. "We are all stunned and truly at a loss for words," says Skydive Atlanta owner Trey Holladay. The United States Parachute Association describes one student death per 500,000 tandem jumps over the past 10 years. (More skydiving accident stories.)