Many people enjoy parachuting. There is a particular rush of free falling to the ground and then at the last minute pulling the cord on the chute to make it safely to the ground. Last year alone, 3.2 million recreational jumpers enjoyed this feeling in the United States. Out of these jumps, there were 16 fatalities. An experienced jumper, Capotorto Vitantonio, lost his life after a recent jump. At first, the authorities assumed this was a horrible accident. It was not until his wife reviewed his last message to her the morning of the jump that she discovered the truth.
Costansa Litellini received a video message from her husband in the moments before his fatal jump. This was not going to be just another jump as he had made in the past; this was going to be his last jump. He told his wife he was jumping soon, but he was “…not going to pull the cord and that he was going somewhere wonderful.”
— infowe (@infowe) July 15, 2017
As she listened to the message, Litellini called in a panic to the center that was supervising his jump. She instructed them to call the plane he was in to tell them not to allow him to jump. Unfortunately, it was too late, and he was able to make his last jump. During the time she was trying to stop his jump, she was also quickly moving to the area where he should have safely landed.
The jump from 13,500 feet without opening a parachute ended Vitantonio’s life. He was found face down in a field near to the city municipal airport. He was 27 at the time of his death and a foreign national from Italy. Police are not releasing any further information about the possible reason behind the suicide.
While the police initially thought this was a jump gone terribly wrong, they quickly ruled it a suicide after hearing from Litellini. Her husband had paid for a space to jump that morning from Skydive Deland, although he was not affiliated with the business. He was certified to jump alone, and he had paid to do so. Skydive Deland offers a broad range of services including making jump times available to those certified to jump alone.
When there is a death like this, many time the media will start to explore the dangers of an extreme sport like this. For Skydive Deland, over the last four years, they have logged 5 deaths including his suicide. They are among the busiest jump centers in the country. According to their website:
“Skydive DeLand offers something for everyone. For beginners there is the tandem skydive and the Accelerated Freefall Program, for intermediate jumpers we offer coaching in all disciplines, and for advanced jumpers there are organizers and multi-plane formations.”
Each year, Skydive Deland logs in between 75,000 to 100,000 jumps. Between 2005 and 2015, Skydive Deland recorded a total of 10 accidents that resulted in death.
At the time of his death, Vitantonio was an employee of another skydiving business in Deland, United Parachute Technologies. They offer a broad range of parachute products and things like tandem jumps for beginning jumpers. Their website also lists a variety of major awards as many associated with this small business competes in the National Skydiving Championships.
Sad to report that my friend, Vitantonio Capotorto died in a parachuting accident yesterday. Folgore, my friend. RIP and blue skies. pic.twitter.com/NFW9gObzk7
— Kregg Jorgenson (@KreggJorgenson) July 13, 2017
His death sent shock waves through the local community as many friends and co-workers posted found memories of shared jumps. He was well-known for posting pictures he shot from jumps via a GoPro camera and sharing the love of the sport with guests as a tandem jumper. He seemed to enjoy the sport, and it had become a part of the majority of his life. It was not clear if there was any hint of problems before the jump to point to him thinking of ending his life.
While they declined to make a comment about the hurried efforts to stop the jump or to elaborate any further about the death, Skydive Deland did share a simple message with the family:
“We express our deepest sympathy for his family and his friends.”
It seems that 27-year old’s death will be felt for some time within the skydiving community in Florida. He was well liked by his co-workers and a regular jumper in this close knit community.