A skydiving instructor from Pensacola Florida died after a tandem jump that also hospitalized his student.
ABC News reported that James “Jimmie” Horak Jr., 56, an instructor for the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Elberta, Alabama, died in a skydive gone wrong.
Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said that three other skydivers who jumped with them told investigators that their equipment appeared to malfunction.
Horak and his student, whose name has not been released to the public, did not make their landing at the Lumberton airport as planned.
Instead, their bodies where found in heavy mud in a swampy wooded area about a mile from the airport. according to CNN.
“They said something appeared to be not right. There appeared to be some entanglement with the lines, but I’m not qualified to say what that was or even speculate about it,” Rigel said.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the following in an email:
“Federal Aviation Administration inspectors will look at whether the parachutes were properly rigged by a qualified rigger and whether the parachute operation met FAA regulations, but local authorities will investigate the accident and determine probable cause”
According to ABC News, Rigel told reporters that they had to hand-carry Horak out of the wooded area. “We still don’t know what the cause of death was or what caused the malfunction”
CNN reported that, based on the evidence on the ground, Horak cut away the main parachute and deployed his backup.
Gold Coast Skydivers owner Leanne Igo said the following:
“We just know that the main was cut away and the reserve was deployed. Everything else beyond that is speculation.”
Igo continued on to say the following about Horak:
“Very professional, soft-spoken, kind-hearted, hard worker, a genuine person and highly experienced. He had a wonderful wife and three children and everybody who ever met Jim never had anything ugly to say about him. He loved what he did.”
A friend, and fellow skydiver, Timber McKinney said that Horak was meticulous about safety.
McKinney told CNN affiliate WEAR. “He really emphasized the safety side of it. He was about the fun side of it too, but he would definitely make sure that everyone that he touched understood the rules and that they follow them.”
Local police will also conduct their own investigation of the skydiving teacher, James Horak, who died in a skydive gone wrong.