ZEPHYRHILLS (FOX 13) - A skydiver died in Zephyrhills around 4:30 p.m. Monday when his parachute failed to open. The man in his mid-30s hit the ground at full speed.
Police investigated the estimated 120 mile-an-hour impact late into the night. The skydiver had nearly 300 jumps under his belt.
"Another staff member went out there and it was pretty clear he was deceased," said TK Hayes, the head of Skydive City in Zephyrhills.
Hayes says the victim jumped with a group of about 10, and they didn't notice he was missing until after they'd come back in from the field. The rest of the group landed near the center square on the 100-acre plot, while he was found on the far right side of the field.
Neither of his chutes opened, and it's unclear why he didn't carry with him a computerized failsafe.
"The initial gear inspection seems to indicate there is nothing wrong with the gear at this point," said Hayes.
They have looked at videos the other skydivers were wearing, and found them to be of little use. They say he wasn't wearing video gear himself, so a final cause of what went wrong may never be known.
"It's quite often a distraction or a series of distractions," said Hayes. "It could have been as simple as his chest strap flapping in his face, and he is trying to deal with the chest strap and lose track of altitude."
Most skydives are a minute of free fall from 13,000 feet, followed by a parachute deployment at 2,500 to 3,000 feet.
Without a chute, that final distance would be covered in 15 seconds.
"No matter what, it is still a tragedy," added Hayes. "I feel awful."
His identity is not being released yet because police are still notifying his family.