Helmet Cam Shows Dying Skydiver’s Heroism

Mar 27, 2013 8:27am

A skydive instructor died a “hero” as he tried to save his student’s life by attempting to deploy his parachute before his own as they fell 13,000 feet from an airplane, police said.

Skydive instructor Orvar Arnarson, 41, and 25-year-old student Andrimar Podarson died Saturday while training and vacationing at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla., when neither of their parachutes were deployed during a jump.

Police have been reviewing helmet camera footage worn by one of the men and say Podarson was unable to pull the chord on his parachute. Police said there was no way of knowing why Podarson did not activate his chute.

Arnarson, police say, desperately tried to reach Podarson’s chute before deploying his own, while plummeting toward Earth at 120 mph.

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Orvar Arnarson

“I can tell you that the video shows the instructor and the student in the airplane together. It shows them exit the airplane, it shows the free fall… It appears that the student doesn’t pull his primary parachute and the instructor attempts to assist until the conclusion of the video,” Pasco County Sheriff Det. William Lindsey said Tuesday.

“He was a hero. He died a hero,” Lindsey added.

Both men had backup automatic activation devices, which deploy if the main parachutes are not opened in time. The backup chutes did not fully inflate before they hit the ground, T.K. Hayes, general manager and president of Skydive City, said Sunday.

Police are still reviewing the video, which they described as hard to watch.

“I was called out that night, and I was out on the scene where the bodies were recovered. Then seeing what transpired prior to [the accident] was very difficult,” Lindsey said Tuesday.

The two men had successfully completed two other jumps Saturday morning with 20 other people from Iceland. The men jumped separately, not in tandem. When Arnarson and Podarson did not return from their third jump, Pasco County sheriff’s department launched a search to look for the two skydivers.

Following a nine-hour search, the pair was finally located in a wooded area near Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, about a mile away from where they were supposed to land.

Last year across the U.S., 19 skydivers died out of 3.1 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association.

Arnarson was a seasoned jumper who posted a plethora of videos on personal websites of his many jumps and perfect landings. The instructor reportedly had thousands of successful jumps under his belt. For Pordarson, this was his eighth jump.

Florida law prohibits the video from being released to the public because it shows the death of the two men. Police said the investigation will continue and the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

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