A Christian skydiving instructor, whom his wife described as a ‘very skilled skydiver and very safety-conscious,’ plunged to his death while doing a tandem jump with a student, who suffered serious injuries. While the skydiving accident is considered as an apparent equipment malfunction in the parachute gear, authorities are investigating the cause and an autopsy will be done this week.
James “Jimmie” Horak Jr., 56, died Saturday in a swamp about a mile from the airport in Lumberton, Miss. Lumberton Fire Chief Jerry Walters said both skydivers were located in a wooded area just off Emmit Byrd Road. After the incident was reported, it took several hours before the two jumpers were located. The rescued skydiving survivor was taken to Forrest General Hospital by Baptist Life Flight. His injuries are not immediately known.
Horak, of Pensacola, Florida, was an instructor at the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Elberta, Alabama. His wife Debbie Horak said that he had no medical conditions and had over 8,000 jumps, according to Associated Press.
The group that jumped together after taking off Saturday morning at approximately 11:30 a.m. included three other skydivers. They told authorities that the cords Horak used to control the parachute appeared to be tangled, said Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel.
Federal Aviation Administration inspectors will look at whether the parachutes were properly rigged by a qualified rigger and whether the parachute operation met FAA regulations, but local authorities will investigate the accident and determine the probable cause, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told AP in an email statement.
Debbie Horak said she and their three children were waiting for autopsy results and authorities to find out what had happened to her husband that led to his death, according to Associated Press.
"He liked adventure, but very much a Christian and family man," she said.