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Experienced skydiver dies after parachute fails to open

Authorities say an experienced skydiver died at a Florida airport after his parachute failed to open.

A 36-year-old man identified as Kurt A. Tracy, died Monday afternoon at Zephyrhills Municipal Airport.

Tracy’s parachute didn’t deploy during the jump. 

Zephyrhills police says Tracy had been jumping with Skydive City, which is located at the airport.  Police say he had made more than 250 jumps.

Investigators haven’t yet determined why the parachute didn’t open. 

Kurt A. Tracy, 36, jumped with Skydive City parachuting center and was killed when his chute failed to open.  He was an experienced parachutist with more than 250 jumps (file photo)

According to the Skydive City’s president, David ‘T.K.’ Hayes, a group of 10 experienced skydivers went up Monday afternoon for a fun skydive more than 13,000 feet in the air.

‘The initial gear inspection seems to indicate that there’s nothing wrong with the equipment at this point,’ Hayes said to BayNews9.

Hayes said no one in the group noticed that one of their number was missing until they had all landed and gone back inside the facility to talk about the dive.

Neither of Tracy’s chutes opened, and it’s unclear why he didn’t carry with him a computerized failsafe. 

Most skydives are a minute of free fall from 13,000 feet, followed by a parachute deployment at 2,500 to 3,000 feet.

Neither of Tracy's chutes opened, and it's unclear why he didn't carry with him a computerized failsafe. Investigators haven't yet determined why the parachute didn't open (file photo)

Neither of Tracy’s chutes opened, and it’s unclear why he didn’t carry with him a computerized failsafe. Investigators haven’t yet determined why the parachute didn’t open (file photo)

Without a chute, that final distance would be covered in fifteen seconds.

Hayes also watched a video of the jump and saw no indication that anything was wrong.

‘I kind of liken it to, you know, you drive your car down the road and you spill a coffee in your car, and you’re down cleaning up the coffee and you go off the road,’ Hayes said. ‘It’s often a distraction or a series of distractions. He may have had a distraction that led to another problem to another.’

‘It could’ve been as simple as his chest strap flapping in his face and he’s trying to deal with the chest strap and loose track of altitude,’ Hayes said.

“You kind of hope throughout the investigation that you do find something. You hope that somebody comes up with an ah-ha! But, I’m not optimistic at this point,” Hayes said to WFLA. 

Deputies recovered Tracy’s body in a wooded, swampy area on Monday evening.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Zephyrhills police will continue to investigate. 

A telephone message seeking comment from Skydive City wasn’t immediately returned.


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