Parachute proves hazardous in New Garden

An exploding parachute doesn’t typically make the list of hazards for a township employee, but it proved to be one on Monday, April 20, at 8:42 a.m. in New Garden Township.

A 25-year-old worker was sorting materials collected during the township’s weekend spring-cleaning event when an explosion occurred, said Police Chief Gerald R. Simpson. The man, whose name has not been released, was transported to Christiana Hospital for a serious, but non-life-threatening injury to his right hand, Simpson said.

“He’s very fortunate it wasn’t more serious,” said Simpson, adding that three other workers, who were also inside the township’s public works facility when the incident occurred, escaped injury.

Simpson said the employee was in the process of sorting metals when he picked up a nondescript cylinder that turned out to be “an active, self-deploying parachute for an ultralight aircraft.” Grabbing the cylinder caused it to ignite and deploy, Simpson said.

Similar to an airbag, the parachute is pushed out of the cylinder with some force, the police chief said. He said investigators are talking to experts to determine exactly what happened. “At this point, we don’t know if he touched a triggering mechanism inadvertently,” said Simpson. “Clearly, it was discarded in a manner that wasn’t safe.”

After reviewing video surveillance, investigators already have some leads on identifying the person who dropped off the canister. “Whether that will lead to the person who owned it isn’t clear,” Simpson said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

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