MULBERRY — The strings of a Gainesville man's parachute became entangled in the wings of a small Cessna airplane practicing takeoff and landing maneuvers Saturday, causing both to crash to the ground.
The plane nose-dived into the grass landing field and the skydiver whipped through the air and landed on his back, but both men suffered only minor injuries.
Pilot Sharon Trembley, 87, of Mulberry, was flying low to the ground on his third landing pass at the South Lakeland Airport. John Frost, 49, was about 75 feet off the ground, slowly descending as the plane caught his strings and spun him around. The Cessna did a full 180-degree turn, said Tim Telford, a photographer who caught the entire accident on film.
"It was all over in about eight seconds," said Telford, 44, who lives seasonally in Mulberry.
When the plane crashed, it was as if everything went silent, Telford said. Then he and others rushed to help.
"Are you okay?" Telford asked Frost, the skydiver.
Frost said he was fine, only a little bruised, Telford recalled, and then tried to stand up.
Others grabbed Trembley from the plane, just in case it caught fire. Soon, emergency responders arrived and took the two to the hospital.
Frost was released, but doctors kept Trembley for observation.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.