ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (AP) — Footage from a helmet camera worn by a skydiving instructor during his fatal jump in Florida showed that he was trying to help another man just before they both died, officials said Tuesday.
Orvar Arnarson's camera showed him trying to pull the cord on Andrimar Pordarson's parachute, Pasco County Detective William Lindsey said during a news conference. It wasn't clear why the student couldn't pull the cord himself.
"He was a hero," Lindsey said of Arnarson. "He died a hero."
Arnarson, 41, and 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, triggering 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.
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 deaths were 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 has told The Associated Press. 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.
The victims were part of a skydiving group from Iceland who travel to Florida annually.
The sheriff's office said it will not be releasing the video of the skydivers' last moments. The agency cited a state law that keeps recordings that depict people dying from being released.