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Sgt. Glenn Sheehy of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office interviews a witness in a field in Gansevoort on Sunday while inspecting a parachute. An unidentified man became separated from the parachute shortly after jumping out of an airplane above Heber Airport, plummeting to his death. The parachute was found near the village and brought to the scene on state Route 32 by a witness.

Jon Alexander

NORTHUMBERLAND -- Authorities say the veteran skydiver who plunged to his death Sunday after becoming separated from his parachute was a 60-year-old Schenectady County resident.

Robert Raecke of Duanesburg jumped from a plane around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office. He became detached from his parachute and landed in a field in Northumberland.

Saratoga County Sheriff’s officers responded to 1693 state Route 32 in Northumberland on Sunday evening, where Raecke's body was recovered. Police said several witnesses watched his fall.

“We really don’t know what we have yet,” Sgt. Glenn Sheehy said at the scene.

A witness found the parachute and harness a “significant distance” away and brought it to the scene on the back of his motorcycle.

Police talked to a representative from Saratoga Skydiving Adventures at the scene; the company operates within eyesight of where the man was found.

Bob Rawlins, who answered the phone at Saratoga Skydiving Adventures Sunday night, said the jumper was experienced but did not identify him.

“He was an experienced jumper with more than 9,000 jumps,” Rawlins said.

Police said it’s unclear if the parachute was owned by the deceased jumper or by a skydiving company.

The investigation into what caused the man to become separate from his parachute is ongoing, according to the Sheriff's Office.


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