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Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner rules sky divers' deaths accidental

ZEPHYRHILLS — The two sky divers whose bodies were recovered over the weekend died of blunt force trauma, the Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office said Monday.

The report ruled the deaths of the men — student Andrimar Pordarson, 25, and instructor Orvar Arnarson, 40, both from Iceland — as accidental.

Pasco Sheriff's Office spokesman Kevin Doll said the circumstances of the deaths also point toward accident.

"I see no suggestion of foul play in the entire case," Doll said.

The men were visiting Florida on a skydiving trip from Iceland and jumped on Saturday morning from Skydive City in Zephyrhills. After Pasco deputies and Zephyrhills police spent several hours searching, deputies in a helicopter spotted the bodies at 7:30 p.m. Saturday off Yonkers Road, south of the Zephyr­hills Municipal Airport.

The investigation is ongoing.

Each man was equipped with a main parachute and a backup designed to trigger at 700 feet if the main chute fails, Skydive City manager David T.K. Hayes said. The backups deployed, but apparently did not pop open to inflate, he said.

Neither jumper used gear from Skydive City. Each packed his own parachutes, Hayes said.

Jim Crouch, director of safety and training at the U.S. Parachute Association, said parachute-packing rules differ based on the origin of the equipment.

Laws require reserve parachutes made in America to be packed by someone certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, he said. If the equipment is from another country, the regulations defer to that country's laws for packing parachutes.

Hayes said his team checked the gear of every jumper nonetheless. The Icelanders' gear met safety requirements of the FAA, he said.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the agency was not sure if the men packed their own parachutes, but will be investigating.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has taken as evidence a video shot from a camera mounted to one of the men's helmets, but is not releasing the video, citing the investigation.

Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner rules sky divers' deaths accidental 03/25/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 25, 2013 9:48pm]
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