Maine State Police, game wardens and forestry personnel are searching for a Skydive New England in Lebanon skydiving instructor who lost their parachute mid-jump. (WGME)

Law enforcement personnel and volunteers have resumed their search for a skydiving instructor who is presumed dead after he somehow became detached from his partner during a tandem jump Thursday afternoon.

Brett Bickford, 41, of Rochester, New Hampshire, was part of a tandem skydiving jump that originated from Skydive New England in Lebanon.

Maine Game Warden spokesman Cpl. John MacDonald said something happened after Bickford deployed the parachute during the 2 p.m. jump. When the student skydiver returned to earth, he was alone.

MacDonald said that typically, tandem skydiving jumps are performed with the student and instructor in separate harnesses that are attached together, with the instructor secured behind the student.

The instructor wears the parachute and controls its deployment during free-fall and during landings, MacDonald said. Whatever occurred that led to the student and Bickford becoming separated happened after the parachute was deployed, MacDonald said.

About 50 people are assisting with the search, which is centered around a roughly one-square-mile area near the Skydive New England property, which has its own air strip.

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MacDonald said the area being searched is densely wooded, making progress slow. If the weather continues to clear up, aircraft and drones may also be deployed Friday afternoon, he said.

MacDonald said the student who was attached to the instructor was not immediately aware that the instructor was missing. The student managed to land on his own safely.

This story will be updated.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MattByrnePPH


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