ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. (AP) — Deputies found the bodies of a skydiving instructor and a student, both from Iceland, after the two didn't return from a weekend jump with a group, setting off an hours-long air and ground search in southwest Florida, authorities said.
The two men had successfully completed two other skydiving jumps Saturday morning with 20 others from a plane in Zephyrhills, about 30 miles northeast of Tampa. But when they didn't return from their third jump, their disappearance tipped off a lengthy search as teams were instructed to look for the men and their chutes, one green-and-white and the parachute blue-and gray, said Pasco County sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow.
The bodies were discovered by spotters from the air early Saturday evening in woods south of the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, Snow said.
Authorities would not comment on whether the skydivers' parachutes had opened. Snow said that was part of the investigation.
Snow identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old student Andrimar Pordarson. No hometowns were given. The men jumped separately, not in tandem.
Authorities said the skydivers were part of a jump outing through Skydive City in Zephyrhills. A message left at the company was not immediately returned Sunday. The area is a popular destination for skydivers. Skydive City is a 14-acre property that includes RV campgrounds, a tiki bar, cafe and regular shows by a reggae band, according to its website.
Meanwhile, Icelandic officials said they were still contacting family and friends of the victims.
"We will assist the families if they request our assistance. I'm not aware of them contacting us," Urdur Gunnarsdottir, press officer for the Foreign Ministry of Iceland, said Sunday.
Skydive City co-owner T.K. Hayes told The Tampa Tribune there have been 10 or 12 deaths in Skydive City's 20-year history.
Last year, Dr. T. Elaine McLaughlin died on a jump at Skydive City on New Year's Day after her chute failed to open properly. She was a resident of the Tampa Bay area and practiced family medicine in St. Petersburg.
Last month, near Seattle, dozens of volunteers spent four days searching through snowy weather and fog after a 29-year-old Florida man didn't return from a skydiving jump above Washington's Cascade foothills. Kurt Ruppert, of Lake City, was wearing a special wing suit with fabric under the arms to allow him to glide like a flying squirrel.
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