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Former Pinellas prosecutor and FBI agent Stephen O'Keefe dies in Pasco skydiving accident

Stephen O'Keefe — an FBI agent, Pinellas prosecutor, soldier and all-around adventurer — was killed from injuries he received over the weekend in a Pasco County skydiving accident.

"Most folks think their parents were superheroes," said his son Joseph O'Keefe, 38, of Maryland. "I got to grow up with a real-life superhero."

Family members said O'Keefe, 70, was skydiving in Pasco County when a gust of wind caught his parachute and caused him to land badly. The Medical Examiner's Office in Polk County said the accident occurred Saturday and that he died Sunday at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Additional details were not available Tuesday.

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Family members said O'Keefe served in both the Marines Corps and the Army Special Forces. He was a career man with the FBI, including time in the Tampa office, and spent 19 years with the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office on felony cases — including murder trials.

"He was an amazing guy. Very athletic for his age, and he was an avid skydiver," said Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett. "Everyone's in shock."

His wife, Mary, said she met him in Fort Myers through mutual friends and fell in love at first sight. They were married in 1966 after a four-month courtship.

"He loved God, country and family, that just puts it in a nutshell," she said.

In his FBI days, he often left home before his children awoke and worked until 10 p.m. or later. But even when he came home late at night, "I would have the children up and he would say prayers with them," his wife said.

His daughter, Katie O'Keefe Nolte, said "he was both sides of the coin. He was tough on one hand and a very soft, religious, family man on the other. He was just everything."

"With the FBI he did mostly, from what I know, undercover work and spoke different languages," she said.

A service is being arranged for Saturday.

Former Pinellas prosecutor and FBI agent Stephen O'Keefe dies in Pasco skydiving accident 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 9:40pm]
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