3 elite soldiers hospitalized after night parachute training accident in Florida

Posted at 2:11 AM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 02:11:42-05

Three elite soldiers from the U.S. Army Parachute Team were injured early Tuesday morning during a training accident at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida, according to the Army.

The soldiers were participating in a low-altitude night training operation around 4 a.m. when the incident occurred.

A U.S. defense official told ABC News that two of the soldiers are in "very serious condition," with the third soldier in "serious condition." They were being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in Miami.

"The incident is under investigation at this time," the Army said in a statement.

The soldiers are members of the Golden Knights, the Army's competitive skydiving team that frequently does demonstrations at sporting events and air shows. While based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the team conducts its winter training at Homestead from mid-January to mid-March.

The official described the Golden Knights as "the best of the best."

In November, the team parachuted into the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants Monday Night Football game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. And in October, they performed an aerial demonstration at the Thunder Over the Rock Air and Space Show at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

There were are record number of elite military airborne-related deaths in 2015, according to Navy Times, but that was followed by a sharp drop in the following two years.

In the last ten years, there have been five serious incidents related to on-duty training accidents involving the Golden Knights, the official said.

The most recent was in 2015 when Golden Knight Sgt. 1st Class Corey Hood collided with another military parachute jumper at the Chicago Air and Water Show, ultimately succumbing to his injuries. Of the five serious incidents, Hood's was the only death.

Adding together all the team member's jumps, the Golden Knights average about 10,000 jumps per year, the official said.