Coroner: Skydiving instructor died before landing on Slidell golf course

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SLIDELL, La. — The skydiving instructor who died Sunday after losing consciousness during a tandem jump with a student died of heart disease before he hit the ground, according to St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Charles Preston’s office.

An autopsy confirmed that Benjamin Leroy Crowell, 58, an instructor for Skydive Nawlins, suffered from critical coronary artery and heart disease.

Other forensic evidence confirms he died before impact, although his body did sustain injury from striking the ground and from his student, who landed atop him.

The Federal Aviation Administration is handling toxicology testing, the coroner’s office said.

According to the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office, the main parachute did not open, but the reserve parachute did.

Witnesses said both skydivers hit the ground very hard on the Royal Golf Course in Slidell.

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