Parachutist plunges to death in southwest Missouri

Monday, December 29, 2008 | 4:51 p.m. CST; updated 6:05 p.m. CST, Monday, December 29, 2008

MOUNT VERNON — Lawrence County authorities on Monday identified a Webb City man who died while skydiving when his parachute failed to deploy.

Larry V. Miller, 37, was described as an experienced skydiver who had completed more than 700 jumps.

Bryan Wolford, owner of Freefall Express Skydiving, said Miller jumped from a plane at about 10,000 feet Sunday. He tried to deploy his main chute at about 3,000 feet, Wolford said, but it malfunctioned and left him virtually no time for his secondary chute to open and slow him down sufficiently.

Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay said his office is currently investigating the accident but will ultimately hand over its findings and the rest of the investigation to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“They’re going to have the ultimate jurisdiction over the parachuting incident,” DeLay said. “Basically what we’re looking into at this time is what might have caused the accident.”

He said there was no evidence anyone tampered with Miller’s parachute.

Lawrence County sheriff’s detective Chris Berry said an autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday.

Lyn Wolford, a co-owner of Freefall Express, which is based at the Mount Vernon Airport, said she didn’t know if Miller prepared his own chute but said “experienced jumpers usually always pack their own parachutes.”

She also urged that the public wait for the results of the investigation before making any judgments about her company.

“Let’s wait until we find out some information,” she said. “We’re as curious as everyone else out there.”

It was the company’s second fatal accident this year. In April, a Freefall Express plane crashed, killing two employees and seriously injuring the pilot.



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Jeffrey Richman December 29, 2008 | 7:05 p.m.

what I don't understand is what is the point of an autopsy? One would think that freefalling from 10000 feet would be a good clue of what was the cause of death. besides what would be left to autopsy I would think everything would look like something you would see in a blender.
Sorry I just don't see the point in wasting money when the cause of death is evident.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 29, 2008 | 7:53 p.m.

Maybe they want to rule out suicide, drug use or foul play.
Maybe for insurance purposes.
Although, personally, I think it's because of the gravity of the situation.

(Report Comment)
Matt Y December 29, 2008 | 8:19 p.m.
(Report Comment)

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