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Sky diving instructor dies after midair collision

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Ashley "Ash" White poses for a photo.


Veteran sky diver Ashley “Ash” White, who had logged than 12,500 jumps, died this morning after colliding with another sky diver at an estimated speed of 180 mph before crashing into a field near Dillingham Airfield.

White, 39, was on a morning, “fun jump” with seven or eight friends when he collided with another jumper at a height of about 5,000 feet and apparently lost consciousness, said Frank Hinshaw, the owner of Skydive Hawaii.

Both sky divers were wearing helmets, Hinshaw said.

“It looked like there was a head to neck collision,” Hinshaw said.

The sky diver who survived the collision received lacerations on his face but refused medical treatment, Hinshaw said.

It was the sixth fatality at Skydive Hawaii, beginning in 1991.

“Skydive Hawaii regrets the loss of life,” Hinshaw said. “It’s sad to us. It strikes our own community and our own circle. These were experienced people living life the way they enjoyed it. A lot of people think skydivers have a death wish or something. But every time we open our parachute it’s a celebration of life.”

White worked at Skydive Hawaii as an independent contractor videotaping jumps and teaching skydiving. He lived on a small farm in Waialua and recently proposed to a woman who packs parachutes for Skydive Hawaii, Hinshaw said. 

When some sky divers did not show up for a Star Crest Solo certification jump this morning, White was among a group of jumpers who went up “just having fun before work started,” Hinshaw said.

They jumped from a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan airplane at a height of about 14,000 feet, Hinshaw said.

“They were free-flying, just having fun,” Hinshaw said.

Around an estimated height of 5,000 feet, Hinshaw said, White and the other jumper collided.

“At 180 mph, you’re moving real fast and when stuff goes wrong, it can go real wrong,” Hinshaw said.

The accident was reported at 8:53 a.m., Honolulu Fire Capt. Robert Main said.

“We closed immediately,” Hinshaw said. “We want to look at everything that we can to try to make things better. It’s certainly a sad day.”

White was a native of Australia who joined Skydive Hawaii only four or five months ago but had worked at another North Shore skydiving company and was popular in the skydiving community, Hinshaw said.

“He was a good instructor and had worked with the national team in Australia as a videographer,” Hinshaw said. “He was full of life and had friends all over the world. He loved this sport and loved the ocean. He used his off time to go fishing and he would bring fish over for people here and take his friends and co-workers out on his boat. He was well respected.”



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