A skydiving instructor deliberately killed himself by detaching himself from his student during a mile-high jump, police say

Skydiving instructor Brett Bickford on a previous jump. It is not clear who his student was on the day he died. WNTW/YouTube
  • A skydiving instructor on a tandem jump with a pupil killed himself by loosening his harness in midair, Maine State Police said on Monday.
  • Because Brett Bickford had 10 years of experience, the fall and resulting death on September 27 confused industry experts and investigators.
  • Maine’s medical examiner’s office concluded that Bickford “loosened his harness in midair and that it was an intentional act.”
  • Bickford reportedly fell a mile to his death. His body was found by wardens a day later.
  • The pupil on the tandem jump landed safely, news reports said.

A skydiving instructor intentionally killed himself on September 27 by detaching from his parachute during a tandem jump with a pupil, falling a mile to the earth, Maine State Police said on Monday.

Experienced tutor Brett Bickford was found dead near Lebanon Municipal Airport in New Hampshire by game wardens on September 28, a day after the jump, which was conducted by Skydive New England, the Portland Press Herald said.

Brickford and the pupil used the same parachute and were harnessed together.

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An earlier report from the Press Herald said the parachute deployed successfully but Bickford then fell to his death. But police interviewed other skydiving instructors during their investigation into the death, who all agreed that there was no way an experienced skydiver like Bickford would loosen his harness by mistake, the Press Herald reported on Monday.

Maine’s medical examiner’s office reached the same conclusion. A police statement on Monday said officials concluded the 41-year-old “loosened his harness in midair and that it was an intentional act.”

US Air Force paratrooper parachute sky diving
Bickford (not pictured) reportedly fell from a height of one mile. (US Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Joseph Pick)

He reportedly fell from a height of one mile.

The case had confused investigators and experts, as Bickford had 10 years of skydiving experience and was a member of the US Parachute Association and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Press Herald said.

The pupil who was on the jump with Bickford managed to land safely.