A Schenectady man died Saturday after he jumped from a skydiving plane without a parachute and struck the roof of a town residence.
State police said Sloan Carafello, 29, of State Street, was aboard a small plane operated by the Duanesburg Skydiving Club along with an instructor, two skydivers and pilot Bob Rawlins.
“It wasn’t an accident,” said Rawlins, also a Duanesburg Skydiving Club director. “He committed suicide.”
State police are continuing their investigation but said they don’t suspect foul play at this time.
Rawlins said he was flying the single-engine plane at about 10,000 feet shortly before 2 p.m. with the instructor, a student, a videographer and Carafello inside.
Rawlins said Carafello had called a week ago requesting to fly to take aerial photographs for a class project. Carafello was not an acquaintance of the jumping party, Rawlins said.
Carafello followed the skydiving group with his camera as they dove from the plane, said Rawlins, who was positioned to close the plane’s door following the scheduled jump.
“I didn’t even get a chance to latch the door and he flew right by me,” Rawlins said.
Carafello struck a corner of a house roof on Duanesburg Road near the airfield where the skydiving club is located. State police said emergency dispatchers received calls from the Duanesburg Skydiving Club and a neighbor of the house who claimed to have witnessed the impact.
Rawlins said the skydiving club has been in business for 37 years and it is not unusual to have observers as passengers on board during skydiving.
Passengers are typically seat-belted and Carafello was checked to ensure that that was the case before takeoff, Rawlins said.
“He was taking a ride, like so many others have, and, I don’t know,” Rawlins said. “At least he killed himself and didn’t take anyone else with him.”
The incident occurs nearly 10 years to the day after experienced skydiver Terrance Bishop died when his parachute caught a gust of wind and collapsed while he was landing at the Duanesburg airport.
Bishop had been practicing with the club’s skydiving performance team.