In the pre-dawn hours of March 15, 2019, Sgt. 1st Class Ethan Carpenter and his fellow Rangers were jumping with full combat equipment, oxygen masks, and night vision goggles. This is known as a full locker jump. 

The team would have spent hours in preparation prior to getting in the aircraft. This would have included refresher training if needed, pre-combat checks, and inspections of all equipment. The team would have received briefings from the jumpmaster regarding the drop zone and, independently of their preexisting familiarity. The team was ready.

According to the official report, after exiting the aircraft, one jumper experienced a parachute malfunction. He then collided with Carpenter, who was then seen parachuting in the wrong direction and into the trees surrounding the drop zone in Arizona.

Sgt 1st Class Ethan Carpenter, who had been assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia’s Regimental Special Troops Battalion, died of his injuries after a free-fall jump. Carpenter was a reconnaissance specialist assigned to the elite 75th Ranger Regiment’s special troops battalion at Fort Benning in Georgia.

It is my opinion that SFC Carpenter may have died on impact with the other jumper. The report says that he was seen parachuting in the wrong direction, which may indicate that he was unconscious at the time. 

The Military Free-Fall Parachutist Course (MFFPC) taught me to follow the jumper one below me and if I was the lowest, to lead the stack to the DZ. Should a jumper have gotten out of the stack for whatever reason, the stack would then followed him. Additionally, all jumpers would have been wearing some kind of marking system such as chem lights on their helmets. This didn’t happen here.

The jumper that collided with Carpenter experienced a partial malfunction known as “premature brake line release” that “could cause a jumper to immediately enter into a violent turn in one direction,” the investigation states. This is exactly what it sounds, some of the lines which brake the parachute broke. These lines would have been checked when packing the parachute.

The jumper, who was not named in the report, “performed corrective action exactly as briefed upon identifying the malfunction and is at no fault.”