East Greenwich police officer, National Guardsman killed while parachuting in Connecticut
EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WLNE) – An East Greenwich police officer and member of the Rhode Island National Guard was tragically killed over the weekend while parachuting in Connecticut.
East Greenwich Police said in a press release Monday morning that Sergeant Chris Callan passed away on Saturday morning due to injuries sustained in a skydiving accident in Danielson, Connecticut.
“It is with deepest sorrow that the East Greenwich Police Department and the Town of East Greenwich announce the passing of Sergeant Christopher Callan,” wrote Col. Stephen Brown, Chief of Police in East Greenwich. “Sergeant Callan was an exemplary officer.”
Sgt. Callan was a 15-year veteran of the department and was assigned as the second shift supervisor.
Connecticut State Police responded to Danielson Airport just before 11 a.m. Saturday after reports of a skydiver that had been injured during a rough landing in the airfield. Sgt. Callan was transported to Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, Conn., where he was pronounced dead.
Sgt. Callan had an extensive military career and served in the U.S. Army Special Forces “Green Berets”. He was deployed overseas multiple times, including to Afghanistan.
“He made an indelible impact on the organization and it’s soldiers. He is the heart and soul of the 56th Troop Command. Larger than life. A leader, a mentor, a friend. Really no way to replace him,” said Col. Gloria Berlanga, Army Chief of Staff for the Rhode Island National Guard.
Col. Berlanga said Sgt. Callan served for 14 years in the National Guard, and his last position was a Senior Operations Non-Commission Officer. His reach was global she said.
“When the unfortunate news started traveling nationwide and internationally because his impact was not only here in Rhode Island, it was throughout the Army and throughout the Army(s) internationally. So we were getting calls Saturday night, Sunday morning from people who were equally shocked and saddened, and just… there are no words, again, no way to replace somebody like that.”
He also served as the Jump Master for the RI National Guard’s Leapfest competition that’s held annually at the University of Rhode Island. He was also a member of the Liberty Jump Team.
“Obviously it was a great shock, and we were all very saddened to learn of his passing. Very much of a surprise considering how experienced Chris was,” said David Accetta, member of the Liberty Jump Team and friend of Sgt. Callan. “He really loved jumping out of airplanes, whether it was skydiving, military free-fall, or static-line parachuting.”
Accetta said he jumped with Sgt. Callan many times over the years during Leapfest, and encouraged him to join the Liberty Jump Team after learning about his love of history.
The organization honors veterans by recreating WWII airborne operations.
“Hundreds of jumpers around the world knew Chris Callan. He was very friendly, and because he had so much experience and so much knowledge, he always wanted to try and pass that on to other jumpers,” said Accetta. “The loss is going to be felt by many many people in a lot of different communities. It’s a very tragic occurrence, losing Chris like this.”
Sgt. Callan leaves behind three children, his parents and two sisters.