Skydiver recorded fatal Zephyrhills fall with helmet cam
One of two skydivers from Iceland killed during a jump Saturday in Zephyrhills was wearing a video camera on his helmet so the footage will be used by Pasco County authorities investigating the deaths.
Instructor Orvar Arnarson, 41, and student, Andrimar Pordarson, 25, died in the jump Saturday morning at Skydive City in Zephyrhills. After a daylong search, the bodies were found in a wooded area south of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, a mile from the landing zone.
The main parachutes never opened, the owner of the center said Sunday.
"Neither one deployed his main chute and we don't know why," said T.K. Hayes, co-owner of Skydive City, where hundreds of jumpers have come for the annual Easter Boogie event. "Sometimes during a jump something creates a distraction."
He said that both reserve chutes, a required piece of equipment, did deploy.
"But it was not in time to save their lives," he said.
An official cause of death will be determined by the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office, with a partial report expected as soon as Monday, said Melanie Snow, spokeswoman for the Pasco Sheriff's Office.
Authorities did not say whether the two men hit any objects in their fall. Though breezy, weather was not a factor, according to a news release from Skydive City.
A detective investigating the case has viewed the video of the fatal dive, Snow said. The video would not be released publicly until after the investigation is finished, she said.
Arnarson, the instructor, was using his own equipment and student Pordarson used equipment that likely belonged to their Icelandic club, Hayes said.
This was the eighth jump for Pordarson, who was participating in freefall training. Arnarson was considered very experienced and had made several jumps during the week, according to Skydive City.
The two men had jumped separately with a group of 17 others at 10:30 a.m. from a DeHavilland Twin Otter airplane.
The FAA will likely join the investigation at some point, according to Hayes.
The Easter Boogie events scheduled this week will go on, he said.
"Certainly this keeps everybody on alert for the rest of the week," he said. "Something like this really wakes everybody up. But, business does carry on.
"The Icelanders are really broken up about it."
The Icelandic embassy is making arrangements to have the bodies shipped back home.
Zephyrhills is an international skydiving mecca with its warm climate and wide-open spaces. The state tourism website visitflorida.com lists skydiving and spring water as main attractions for tourists.
About 75,000 skydives originate from Skydive City each year, according to the center. Since opening 1990, the center estimates it has accounted for more than a million jumps.
Pinellas' new program for suspended students is off to a slow start, but the school district looks for ways to improve