Skydiving Instructor Dies Following Tandem Jump In Missouri

A skydiving instructor died on Saturday after a tandem jump in Missouri went wrong. James “Jimmie” Horak Jr. was an instructor for the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Alabama.

The instructor’s wife, Debbie Horak, stated that her husband made more than 8,000 dives in his life and was very safety-conscious. But it appeared that an equipment malfunction was to blame for his death.

The New York Daily News reports that the skydiving instructor and his student, who has not yet been named, landed in a remote swamp about a mile from the Lumberton, Mississippi airport.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel added that three other skydivers in the group reported to investigators that something wasn’t right with the tandem jumpers’ equipment. He explained that there appeared to be some kind of entanglement with the parachute’s lines.

While the skydiving instructor died in the jump, CNN notes that the other person was taken to a hospital and listed in critical condition with broken bones and head injuries. Because they landed in a rural area, deputies had to carry the instructor’s body and his student for a “considerable distance” to get them out of the wooded area. From there, the student was airlifted to the hospital.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will investigate the accident and inspect the parachutes involved. They will determine whether or not the equipment was rigged properly by a qualified parachute rigger. They will also see if the parachute operation was in line with federal regulations.

Meanwhile, local authorities will also investigate the incident to determine probable cause, including performing an autopsy on Horak to determine his cause of death. The operation is scheduled for Monday.

While Horak worked for Emerald Coast Skydiving Company, the Gold Coast Skydivers were based at the Lumberton airport where they were supposed to land. It’s unclear which company organized Saturday’s dive that killed the skydiving instructor.

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