Army ranger from Dudley dies during training jump in Georgia

CHRISTOPHER DONA
CHRISTOPHER DONA

A 21-year-old Army Ranger from Dudley died during a training exercise in Georgia on Thursday, a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment said.

Rangers found Private First Class Christopher P. Dona unconscious on the ground with no pulse after jumping out of a Boeing C-17 military transport aircraft at Fort Stewart, the straps from his parachute around his neck, said Lieutenant Colonel Brian DeSantis, a public affairs officer for the 75th Ranger Regiment.

The Rangers tried to revive him, but were not successful. He was pronounced dead just before 5 p.m.

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“This was just a daylight jump onto a familiar drop zone,” DeSantis said. “Jumping is an inherently dangerous thing, and even though we do it routinely, there’s always danger in jumping out of an aircraft.”

Army officials will investigate how the risers and part of the suspension line of the parachute wrapped around Dona’s neck, and whether it was before or after he lost consciousness, DeSantis said.

Investigators do not suspect foul play, but the way they found Dona’s parachute straps is very unusual, DeSantis said.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.

Dona finished his first deployment in Afghanistan last month, according to a statement from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“Above all, Chris was the epitome of what we expect of our Rangers — a quiet professional with unmatched selfless service,” Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Harman, the commander of Dona’s battalion, said in a statement.

Dona was born in Dudley, graduated from Shepherd Hill Regional High School, enlisted in January 2012, and trained in Fort Benning, Ga.

During his year and a half of service, he received the Parachutist Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge, along with five medals and the Army Service Ribbon.

The Army will award him the Army Commendation Medal posthumously, according to the statement.