SLIDELL, LA (WVUE) - A skydiving instructor who died over the weekend while performing a tandem jump with a trainee died from heart disease, according to St. Tammany Coroner Dr. Charles Preston.
An autopsy conducted Tuesday confirmed that Benjamin Leroy Crowell suffered from critical coronary artery and heart disease. Other forensic evidence confirmed he was deceased before impact, although his body did sustain injuries from striking the ground and from his student who landed on top of him.
A reserve parachute opened but Crowell and the student hit the ground at Royal Golf Course with significant force.
Investigators say Crowell was pronounced dead at the scene.
"It's still under investigation. At some point he lost consciousness, but the gear did it's job," said Brenda Grafton with 'Skydive Nawlins'.
Emergency crews airlifted the student to a hospital for treatment. 'Skydive Nawlins' owner says she's been released from the hospital.
The owner also says that Crowell was a certified examiner, and rigger, known all across the U.S.
Crowell was a 58-year-old Coast Guard veteran from Theodore, Alabama.