New video shows Polk County parachute, plane collision

New video shows Polk County parachute, plane collision

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New images show more of the weekend collision at the South Lakeland Airport between a Cessna and parachutist.

It happened around 11 a.m. Saturday. Remarkably, there were no serious injuries.

Both of the men involved are said to be experienced in their hobby. Several of the pilot's neighbors said Monday that Cessna pilot 87-year-old Sharon Trembley’s experience is the reason both men are alive today.

There are various accounts of how it all went down, but Skydive Tampa's Tim Telford is standing by his customer Steven Frost, saying Frost had the right-of-way in his landing Saturday that ended in a collision between the parachutist and Trembley.

“[The skydiver’s pilot] made calls as regulations require for the FAA, he called two minutes prior to jumpers, he called ‘jumpers away,’ he called his descent, he made all his announcements to use caution 12,500 feet and below,” Tim Telford said Monday.

Neighboring business Handy-Can Portable Restrooms captured surveillance video of the crash. Several staff members heard the sound that sent people running.

“I don't think a thud's normal when you're skydiving,” owner Steve Michalec said.

The workers there were pleasantly shocked by the outcome.

“You figured someone would have been hurt,” Karen Hensley said.

The pilot, Sharon Trembley, was not at home Monday. In fact, his neighbors said he'd gotten away and needed some time apart from the chaos following the crash. But the neighbors News Channel 8 spoke to are all standing behind him. They say Trembley saved this skydiver's life and he is a very good pilot.

But the parachutist is sending a far different sentiment than thankfulness.

“Basically, he made a conscious decision to kill somebody,” Frost said.

“I think everyone will be keeping their head on a swivel a little bit more,” Telford said to his business going forward. “Staying more aware to the traffic in the area both pilots and skydivers. I hope it's a lesson learned by everybody,” he added.

The FAA says they can't comment on any ongoing investigation. However, Sunday the Cessna pilot's wife pointed News Channel 8 to an FAA regulation that states a parachutist must be at least 2,000-feet above an airport’s traffic pattern and avoid creating a hazard to air traffic.

News Channel 8 read that to the owner at Skydive Tampa and he maintains the parachutist had the right-of-way and this was an accident.

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