FAA: Wingwalker fell to death from biplane near Wesley Chapel

PCSO: Parachute failed to deploy

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - A wingwalker is dead after a biplane he was on made a maneuver and his parachute did not deploy as he fell from the plane to his death, according to officials with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Aviation Administration.

PCSO spokesperson Melanie Snow says emergency crews found the body of Marc Curto, 62, of Tampa, in the area of Wesley Chapel Boulevard and Grand Oaks Boulevard in Land O' Lakes around 3 p.m. Saturday.

The accident occurred in the air near the Topp of Tampa Airport, as an air show event was ongoing. The pilot was able to safely land the plane after the incident at the same airport.

A witness tells ABC Action News he saw two wingwalkers on the biplane as the plane made a maneuver around 1,000 feet in the air. The victim fell from the plane and his parachute never deployed.

Jenn Ritter, a witness who was at the airport, told ABC Action News that the plane took off with two wingwalkers and the pilot in the back of the plane.

Ritter said the plane had been in the air for five to ten minutes when something went wrong. "I looked off in the distance and I saw something fall from the plane. I had no idea it was a body."

The yellow and blue biplane circled the area where the wingwalker fell, Ritter said, in an apparent attempt to see the precise location of where the man fell. She also said the plane appeared to be low when the wingwalker fell.

When the plane landed, Ritter said those on the ground knew something was wrong. "They ran up to the clubhouse when they landed and got out of the plane -- and they were down a guy."

A resident in the subdivision where Curto landed said he heard a loud crash in the trees behind his home and went out to investigate the sound.

"I see the parachute over there and I get closer," Alfi Acebes said, "and I see the dead body over there. I can only see his hand and his face, you know. He was dead." 

"To have something like this happen on what was supposed to be a beautiful day and an exciting event for this community is very tragic," Snow said.

FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen said the agency would only be investigating the parachute for its failed deployment, but later added that the FAA's investigation may broaden when it was learned the victim was a wingwalker.

The NTSB has also been notified of the accident. The incident remains under investigation.

Earlier Saturday, a small plane made a crash-landing in Zephyrhills . The pilot sustained minor injuries.

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