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Garrison Petawawa medic killed in skydiving mishap Sunday was planning to move to Toronto

By Aedan Helmer, Postmedia Network

Betiana “Bety” Mubili is seen her following her first skydiving jump in July.

Betiana “Bety” Mubili is seen her following her first skydiving jump in July.

Betiana “Bety” Mubili was on her way to becoming a commissioned officer with the Canadian Forces when she was killed Sunday in a skydiving mishap, says her heartbroken father.

Viktor Mubili said he’s been fielding phone calls and messages of condolences “left, right and centre” since police confirmed his 29-year-old daughter Bety was killed after her parachute malfunctioned during a solo recreational jump near Petawawa Sunday.

According to her father, Bety Mubili had already packed her belongings and was preparing to move back to Toronto, where the family first settled after moving to Canada from Zambia in the early 2000s.

Bety enlisted in the Canadian Forces right out of high school in 2006, training first at CFB Gagetown before transferring to Edmonton and later Petawawa, where she had been stationed for just under a year before Sunday’s skydiving incident.

She trained as a medic, and served a year-long tour in Afghanistan, where she attained the rank of Master Corporal.

“She always wanted to help people,” said Viktor Mubili, who explained he came from a military background in his native Zambia. “She was supposed to move back to Toronto this month to start her training. She was going to be Lieutenant. But now that will never be.”

Mubili said he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of condolences.

More than 100 mourners showed up at the family’s old neighbourhood church in Mississauga Monday, where Bety “never missed a day at church,” her father said, to express their grief, share memories and offer prayers.

“She was everyone’s friend,” Mubili said. “She was always smiling, always happy, and the happiness she exuded made others around her happy as well.”

Mubili said funeral services will likely be held in Toronto on the weekend, though plans have not yet been finalized.

“I’m at a loss for words,” said Mubili’s cousin Iqbal Geloo. “One thing I can tell you is that this was an exceptional girl full of life… she served in Afghanistan and that inspired us all to pursue careers. She excelled in her career. Until this untimely death.”

She leaves behind a young brother Issa “and a whole lot” of grieving cousins and nephews,” said Geloo. “Gone but never forgotten.”

Garrison Petawawa public affairs officer Daphny Gebhart-Turcotte confirmed Mubili served as a medic and was recently promoted from Master Corporal to Officer Cadet, and said she was about to pursue her nursing training in Toronto.

Viktor Mubili confirmed a video clip posted to YouTube on July 31 shows his daughter completing her first skydive, a tandem jump from 10,000 feet with Skydive Petawawa.

Police declined to name the skydiving company involved in Sunday’s fatal incident, though OPP Const. Shawn Peever confirmed Mubili had signed up for the jump with a “private recreational skydive company that was local (to Petawawa).”

The area where Mubili crashed, in a field near Black Bay Road, is several hundred metres from the “drop zone” for Skydive Petawawa, the area’s only local recreational skydiving company.

Skydive Petawawa did not return messages left by phone and email Monday, and attempts to reach company owner J.P. Marcoux were unsuccessful.

Luca Sestito, who owns Dynamic Parachute Rigging, a company connected to Skydive Petawawa, declined comment.

“There’s an investigation going on… so I can’t say anything at this point,” Sestito said.

In the clip, posted to the video-sharing site July 31, a smiling Bety Mubili says the jump is her “first time skydiving,” and after landing safely, proclaims it the “best experience of my life!”

According to information on the Skydive Petawawa website, the company performs tandem jumps from a Cessna at 10,000 feet altitude.

People attain an average speed of 195 km/h during the “free fall” portion of the jump, according to the company website, which also provides a section under the heading, “What if the parachute malfunctions?”

“Skydiving parachute systems are equipped with a series of back ups that include a reserve parachute and an automatic activation device. This, combined with the knowledge base of your instructor and the training you receive if you are a First Jump Course student, provides solutions to most problems that are commonly encountered.

“That being said, we acknowledge there is inherent risk in everything we do in this world and that there is no perfect system. Our priority is the safety of all our jumpers.”

OPP said the investigation will include an examination of the equipment she was using. Police have spoken to witnesses but want to talk to anyone with information.

“We’re in the early stages” of the investigation, Peever said.

Police notified the Transportation Safety Board of the incident.

TSB spokesman Eric Collard said the agency is aware of the incident but did not deploy an inspector.

The Upper Ottawa Valley OPP detachment is leading the investigation, and has spoken with several witnesses.

Investigators are asking anyone with information to call the force at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from Olivia Blackmore and Megan Gillis

ahelmer@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/helmera