Coroner: Skydiving instructor died before hitting the ground Sunday in Slidell | St. Tammany

A skydiving instructor died before hitting the ground at the Royal Golf Course near Slidell on Sunday during a tandem jump, according to an autopsy that determined he died of heart disease.

The St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office conducted the autopsy Tuesday on 58-year-old Benjamin Leroy Crowell.

Crowell’s trainee on Sunday, a young woman, survived.

She told authorities on the scene that Crowell lost consciousness after they left the plane, according to Capt. Daniel Seuzeneau, spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office has closed its investigation into the incident.

A skydiving instructor was killed and a trainee was injured in an accident Sunday morning in…

Crowell, who lived in Theodore, Alabama, suffered from critical coronary artery and heart disease, Coroner Dr. Charles Preston said. Other forensic evidence confirmed that he died before impact, although his body did sustain injury from striking the ground and from his student, who landed on top of him.

The Federal Aviation Administration is handling toxicology testing in accordance with standard procedure, the Coroner’s Office said.

Crowell was a veteran instructor who had more than 9,000 jumps, according to Brenda Grafton, who owns the company that was involved, Skydive Nawlins.

She said Crowell was a master rigger, meaning a person who is licensed to pack parachutes.

He had worked…

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