Keystone Heights man dies in skydiving accident

Palatka police say Lawrence Elmore' main parachute did not open

PALATKA, Fla. – Police say a 73-year-old Keystone Heights man died when his main parachute failed to open while skydiving on Saturday afternoon.

Lawrence Elmore was jumping at Palatka Municipal Airport when his main parachute did not open, according to Palatka police spokesman David Parsons.  Officers say Elmore had a reserve parachute, but it did not open in time.

Art Shaffer, owner of Skydive Palatka, says Elmore was doing free-fall formations with three or four other people when it happened. He was in his second or third jump of the day when the parachute failed to open.

Witnesses told police they saw Elmore spinning in the air around 3:30 p.m. Saturday. 

Shaffer says Elmore was an experienced skydiver, with more than 6,800 jumps.  He picked up the sport when he was 50 and jumped two to three times every week.  Shaffer says Elmore helped mentor younger jumpers. 


According to a YouTube video, Elmore made 72 parachute jumps in one day at Skydive Palatka to celebrate his 70th birthday on April 30, 2011 (pictured, right).  On his 60th birthday he made 60 jumps.

The medical examiner will do an autopsy, although no foul play is expected.

2nd skydiving incident Saturday

Michael Trusser of DeLand, 62, suffered serious injuries in a rough landing from a skydive in Volusia County, authorities said.

Trusser possibly hit a vehicle as he landed in a Volusia County Schools bus terminal Saturday afternoon, police said. Trusser was taken to a hospital by helicopter, but there was no report on his condition.

Sgt. Chris Estes tells The Daytona Beach News-Journal that Trusser's parachute had a "hard opening" that caused him to fall too quickly.