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Ex-Chicago man dies in parachute accident in Puerto Rico

Gary Anthony Ferracane | Photo provided by family

A 58-year-old man who grew up in the South Chicago neighborhood died Saturday in a skydiving accident while in Puerto Rico, authorities said.

Police say Gary Anthony Ferracane died Saturday morning at the 14th annual skydiving festival at the island’s Arecibo regional airport.

Ferracane was an experienced skydiver who got his start as a weather parachutist for the U.S. Air Force in the late ‘70s. After four years of service, Ferracane continued to skydive regularly for fun.

One video uploaded to YouTube shows a young, mustachioed Ferracane skydiving above Sandwich, Ill. in 1988.

Event organizer Jason Gonzalez attributed the accident to pilot error and said no technical malfunctions happened. He said that Ferracane executed an aggressive turn that left him insufficient time to adjust his parachute for a smooth landing.

Federal Aviation Administration officials, police and prosecutors are investigating what happened, according to authorities.

Gonzalez said that the death was the first ever associated with the festival.

In his personal life and in his work, Ferracane was “helpful and funny and other-directed,” said his sister, Laura .

Ferracane managed an executive search firm, where he mentored and helped “hundreds of people find work,” his sister said.

He would later purchase a property management firm through which he oversaw oceanfront condos and vacation rental homes in southwest Florida, his sister said. Ferracane split his time between homes and businesses in Florida and west suburban Westmont.

Ferracane was beloved by hundreds of people, his sister said, whom she expects will “come out of the woodwork to remember him.”

Ferracane is also survived by his wife, Joanna; two sons, Bob and Anthony; a daughter, Hollie, and three grandchildren.

Contributing: AP