A 25-year-old Long Island native was killed in a skydiving accident on Sunday, January 7th, in Zephyrhills, Florida. The skydiver, Joshua Butzke, was attempting his 85th jump when he suffered a parachute mishap that consequently resulted in a hard landing.
According to reports, Mr. Butzke’s jump commenced around 4:20 in the afternoon when he leaped from the jump plane at roughly 13,500 feet. His parachute was deployed at approximately 3500 feet above ground level and yet, officials stated that the parachute started to spin at elevations between 1000 and 800 feet, which ultimately led to him striking the ground hard.
According to Skydive City drop zone manager T.K. Hayes, the nature of the impact resulted in devastating injuries.
Mr. Butzke was transported to a local hospital where he was subsequently pronounced deceased. Mr. Hayes has indicated that the reason for the parachute spinning out of control has yet to be determined and that the FAA will start their investigation into the accident this week.
Mr. Hayes said despite the investigations, “I don’t know that we’re ever going to be able to come to an exact conclusion,” as to what ultimately caused the accident.
The jump was Joshua’s second of the day and one of 14 he had executed in between Sunday and the two days prior. All 14 jumps were attempted at Skydive City in Zephyrhills. Mr. Butzke was a certified and experienced skydiver having obtained licensure in New York in 2017.
It has been reported that Mr. Butzke worked in financial planning after being raised in and attending school in Port Jefferson Station. Joshua wasn’t someone who shied away from adventurous things. According to his sister, Eva Wein, he was an avid traveler who loved experiencing new things. She said she was texting with him shortly before his final jump on Sunday and that, “He lived for his nephews. He lived for his family. Nothing in the world was more important to him.”
She said he was “Just a truly wonderful person.”
Joshua Butzke’s death is the second in less than four months at the Florida drop zone following the death of another experienced skydiver. Kurt A. Tracy, 36, was killed after a skydiving accident in which his chute failed to deploy in November.