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‘Skydive the Wasatch’ customer and instructor dead after apparent parachute malfunction

NEPHI, Utah — Two people involved in a tandem skydive jump have both died after their parachutes apparently failed to function properly, according to Nephi Police.

Police identified the victims as 41-year-old Wendi Gabaldon, of Tooele, and her Skydive the Wasatch instructor, 35-year-old Serena Whelchel, from California.

Police said Gabaldon and Whelchel jumped from a Cessna 182 plane flying near the Nephi City Airport around 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening.  Juab County dispatch received a 911 call about the incident at 7:19 p.m., according to police.

Gabaldon and Whelchel were then taken by ambulance to Central Valley Medical Center, where they both died.

Skydive the Wasatch issued a press release about the incident Friday, confirming that a skydiving instructor and student suffered fatal injuries during a tandem jump.

"Skydive the Wasatch personnel are working with local authorities conducting the investigation of this incident," the release states. "Our sincerest condolences go out to both families."

Loved ones have created a GoFundMe page to assist the Gabaldon family with funeral costs and other expenses in the wake of the death.

Wendi-Kay Gabaldon. Image via GoFundMe.

According to the GoFundMe page, Wendi-Kay Gabaldon was a mother, grandmother and wife who "took in three children that were not her own and gave them a second chance in their small home in Tooele Utah."

The page states Gabaldon was skydiving with her three oldest daughters when the tragic accident occurred.

One of Gabaldon's relatives posted on Facebook about the skydiving trip prior to the incident, saying the trip was a family outing.

"Lol well today is the day, friends. Me and my family will be throwing ourselves out of a plane and free falling straight towards earth. Lord, please make sure we make it through this wonderful experience of skydiving. Amen!"

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