Skydiver's Heartbreaking Suicide Message to Wife Came Just Days Before Their Second Anniversary
Vitantonio Capotorto, 27, never deployed his parachute after jumping from 13,500 feet
Volusia County, Florida marriage records show that the Italian-born veteran skydiver who texted a farewell video to his wife moments before plunging from a plane committed suicide only days before the couple would have celebrated their second wedding anniversary.
According to police reports, Vitantonio Capotorto, 27, never deployed his parachute after jumping from 13,500 feet above DeLand, Florida, on the morning of July 11. Moments before, he sent a foreboding video to wife Costanza Zitellini.
“He was telling me to be happy because where he is going will be an amazing place,” Zitellini wrote in a statement given to responding officer Thomas Gillan of the DeLand Police Department. Records show the couple married July 18, 2015.
The moment she received her husband’s message saying that he would not pull the ripcord during his jump, Zitellini rushed to Skydive DeLand, where she frantically begged employee Tara-Marie Richards for help.
“Vitantonio showed up at Skydive DeLand for load 1 of the day. He seemed normal,” Richards wrote in her statement to police. “The aircraft reached altitude and Vitantonio exited the aircraft. While he was in the air, his wife ran into the office saying, ‘Don’t let him jump.’ She had a message from him telling her that he was not going to pull. Unfortunately, it was too late. Vitantonio already exited the aircraft.”
First responders soon located Capotorto’s body lying face down in an open field near the facility, known as one of the nation’s busiest skydiving hubs. Orlando’s WKMG-TV reports that Capotorto’s death was the fourth in five years at the facility, founded in 1982.
“We are the skydive capital of the world,” Chris Graham, public information officer for the City of DeLand told PEOPLE. “Any time you have a lot of jumps, you’re going to have injuries and, unfortunately, fatalities.”
Graham noted that Capotorto’s death is being investigated as a suicide and that there is no pending investigation as to the safety of Skydive DeLand.
Statistics from the United States Parachute Association show that in 2016, 21 skydiving fatalities occurred out of upward of 3.2 million jumps. Those figures reflect one fatality per 153,557 jumps.
Graham noted that Capotorto’s death comes on the heels of another loss for the local skydiving community. Just last month, DeLand Police Officer Constantine Procos, a former skydiving instructor, and brother of Marc Procos, general manager of United Parachute Technologies where Capotorto and Zitellini worked together, died of complications from a double lung transplant.
“They’ve had some heartbreak of late,” Graham said. “They’re a pretty tight-knit community and it’s a tragedy that something like this would occur.”