Karthik Balakrishnan was to return to his native India next week to help support his parents.
But before he left, the software engineer wanted to follow his passion and parachute solo for the first time.
“None of us liked it because we knew the dangers involved,” said his brother-in-law, Rajalingam Arunachalam. “But he was very passionate about it.”
His worst fears were realized when the 30-year-old Balakrishman died Sunday after encountering trouble shortly after his chute opened in the skies over downstate Ottawa. Witnesses say Balakrishnan went into "several radical turns" before he lost control and slammed to the ground, according to the LaSalle County sheriff's office.
Balakrishnan had skydived several times, but always in tandem with an instructor, Arnachalam said. Sunday was his first solo outing.
Balakrishnan had come to the United States about five years ago to further his career, but he wanted to return home to help his brother support their parents, Arunachalam said. The action reflected what kind of person he was: caring and family-oriented.
“I haven’t heard a single person complain about him,” Arunachalam said. “He had no bad habits.”
The family was excited to have Balakrishnan back home, and were also looking forward to his brother’s wedding next month, Arunachalam said. “It’s going to take months for me to return back to normal,” he said, choking back tears.
Arunachalam said he’s concerned for the safety of other skydivers, and hopes to learn more about his brother-in-law’s accident.
The accident happened about a mile east of the Skydive Chicago Dayton facility, Lake County sheriff’s officials said. He had flown out of the Skydive facility in Ottawa.
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration are meeting with investigators from the LaSalle County sheriff's office. The LaSalle County Coroner's office is also investigating.
Officials from Skydive Chicago refused to comment on the accident.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun