Fla. authorities to review skydiver's helmet video

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2013 4:19 PM

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (AP) — Authorities on Monday were reviewing footage from a helmet camera worn by a skydiving instructor who, along with a student, died in a jump at a popular southwest Florida camp.

Teacher Orvar Arnarson, 41, and student Andrimar Pordarson, 25, jumped separately, not in tandem, on Saturday after successfully completing two jumps earlier that day with 20 other people. The two Icelandic skydivers did not return from their third jump, tipping off an hours-long air and ground search around the Zephyrhills facility, about 30 miles northeast of Tampa. The bodies were discovered later that evening in the woods.

Investigators will review the helmet cam footage to try to glean more about what happened, said Pasco County sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow.

The cause of death was blunt force trauma, the medical examiner's office said. Autopsy results were pending, but a preliminary investigation determined that the manner of death was accidental.

The men didn't deploy their main parachutes, which could mean that they lost altitude awareness and didn't know where they were during the jump, Skydive City co-owner T.K. Hayes told The Associated Press on Sunday. Both victims had backup automatic activation devices, but they didn't have time to fully inflate.

Out of just over 3 million jumps, 19 skydivers died last year across the U.S., according to the United States Parachute Association. Experts said it is "very rare" for two jumpers to die in the same accident.

"It happens from time to time if two skydivers collide while flying their parachutes if they don't see each other," said Nancy Koreen, Director of Sport Promotion for association.

"In that situation, their canopies can tangle, causing an accident. I don't yet know the details of this particular accident, but from what I understand, this was a different case," she said, adding that "it's extremely rare for this type of double fatality to occur."

The victims were part of a skydiving group from Iceland who travel to Florida annually.