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Update: Experienced Skydiver Dies When Two Parachutes Don't Deploy

8:53 AM, May 1, 2011   |    comments
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  • Frank Keen, Courtesy: Rochelle Glinka

PALATKA , Fla. - An experienced skydiver is dead after both his primary and back-up parachutes failed to open, said Palatka Police.

It happened around noon at the Palatka Municipal airport on Saturday.

Palatka Police Detective Mike Meredith told First Coast News 67-year old Frank Keen was skydiving with a group of friends. Meredith said Keen was a retired military member who had skydiving experience in the military. Meredith also said Keen had jumped about 2,000 times in his career.

Police are still investigating exactly what went wrong. Meredith said Keen's friends reported a group of 17 people boarded a small plane, and that several skydivers were going to jump from various elevations.

Meredith said Keen jumped with his group at about 3,500 feet and formed a four man ring in the air. Meredith said at about 4,000 feet the ring broke loose, as planned. However, a fellow skydiver told police he was unaware of any problems until he landed and saw several people rushing towards someone on the ground.

Hours after the death, jumpers at SkyDive Palatka resumed skydiving trips. Art Shaffer with SkyDive Palatka said Keen would have wanted it that way. The friends were celebrating the birthday of a fellow skydiver by completing a series of jumps.

"Not jumping because of what happened, he would be mad at us. So we're going to go out and remember him," said Shaffer.

Palatka Police said Keen's death appears to be an accident, and are unsure if an unknown medical problem was a contributing factor.

Meredith said an autopsy will be performed on Monday in Daytona.


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