Skydiver for Middletown team killed in jump accident remembered as friend, father

A skydiver who was part of a Middletown-based team and performed at NASCAR events died Monday morning in an accident over Sebastian, Fla.

Christian Stevens, 49, of Canton, Ga., was a member of Team Fastrax and finishing 11 days of training during an annual winter training session.

He had more than 20 years of experience, was a skydiving instructor and was in his fourth year as a member of the White Team of demonstration skydivers. Investigators said he was trying to avoid another skydiver when he landed at a high speed.

Stevens, a medical pharmaceutical sales representative in the Atlanta area, would periodically work at Start Skydiving in Middletown. He was a tandem instructor and during the Warrior Weekend to Remember, taking veterans and Gold Star family members on tandem skydiving jumps, according to John Hart II, a founding member of Team Fastrax as well as the leader of the group’s Red Team Leader, its highest level performance team. He said Stevens did volunteer work during the holidays to ensure children of deployed troops had Christmas presents.

Hart is also the co-owner of Start Skydiving and Start Aviation with his sons John Hart III and Alex Hart. The skydiving demonstration teams make about 3,000 to 4,000 jumps over various public and sporting events around the world and across the nation.

Stevens was married and had two daughters, Hart said.

“He was a good friend and was like a brother,” Hart said. “It’s tough. He was an amazing dad.”

Hart also described Stevens as an “Army Ranger, a patriot. He was good people, one of the best.” He said Stevens tried out twice before becoming a member of Team Fastrax four years ago.

“Most people don’t come back if they are not selected,” Hart said. “After he developed some more skill sets, he made the team. He just never gave up.”

Hart said the accident happened Monday morning at Skydive Sebastian at the Sebastian Municipal Airport, which he said is known as a safe site. He said the skydiving team had not experienced an injury during its winter training session over the past 18 years, and it was the team’s third season at Skydive Sebastian.

According to Team Fastrax Facebook page, “After a successful Team Fastrax Winter Training Camp, the team decided to perform a 9-Way Diamond timed to the launch of a SpaceX rocket. Our teammate Christian Stevens named the jump the Falcon9.

“Unfortunately our teammate lost his life (Monday) morning on a bad landing after this jump.”

Hart called the incident a “tragic accident.”

Hart said the Sebastian site skydivers converge into one area no matter their experience and skill levels.

“There were a lot of canopies (Monday),” Hart said.

Stevens was landing into the wind and turning, but he was forced to take evasive action to avoid colliding into a younger skydiver, Hart said. Hart said the younger skydiver did not do anything wrong, and Stevens’ actions avoided a more serious outcome for the other skydiver.

Sebastian police and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the accident.

Funeral services are pending for Stevens, Hart said.

Hart said there will be a memorial in Middletown for Stevens with a date to be determined.

According to the United States Parachute Association, there were 3.3 million jumps and 13 skydiving fatalities in 2018, or about 0.0039 fatalities per 1,000 jumps.

The USPA also reported 2,147 skydiving injuries requiring a medical care facility or one injury per 1,537 skydiving jumps in 2018.

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