New details in death of WNY paratrooper

Sgt. Shaina Schmigel

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — An investigation into the death of a Western New York paratrooper during a training exercise is shedding light on the tragic accident.

21-year-old Sgt. Shaina Schmigel, a Medina native, died near Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Schmigel was doing a nighttime static-line jump.

According to the Army investigation, something went wrong with her line, causing her to get pulled by another jumper.

A spokesperson from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division told News 4 airborne operations are inherently risky, and this this tragedy has sparked new safety regulations.

He said at the time of Schmigel’s jump, the jump-master did not notice her static line was routed under the main curved pin protector flap.

This caused Schigel to get towed by another jumper. She reportedly died from lacerations to her throat and a broken neck.

That jump-master lot their certification, but the Army spokesperson said at the time, the deficiency of that static line routing wasn’t known.

News 4 spoke to the family and close friends of Schmigel shortly after the tragedy. They described her as a woman on a mission.

“I guess I’m still kind of in shock mode. I keep thinking she’s going to call me because we talked 2-3 times a week. Every Saturday we talked. Every Sunday we talked,” her mother Karie told News 4.

“She was great. She was always participating. She was very smart. And she knew what she wanted to do. She was very driven,” said Krista Duhow, a former teacher.

While the jump-master involved has not been able to act as a “safety” since Schmigel’s death, the Army found no criminal wrongdoing.

 

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