The Daily Oklahoman
February 6, 1979
Services for Kirby Joe Maxwell, 27, will be at 2 p.m. today at Baggerly Funeral Hoe with burial in Memorial Park Cemetery. Maxwell died Sunday in Logan County in a parachute accident.
A 1969 graduate of Norman High School, Maxwell had attended Colorado State University and Central State University, Edmond, where he was a member of ROTC. He was an employee of the Dwain's Automotive Shop and a member of the First Baptist Church. Norman, and the Sooner Parachute Association.
Survivors include his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Delbert Maxwell, Edmond; a brother, Dennis Tucson, Ariz; his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Glen Boring, Guymon and a nephew.
The Daily Oklahoman
February 5, 1979
By Jim Etter
GUTHRIE - Two veteran sky divers collided about 5,000 feet above the ground Sunday in a freak accident that sent on hurtling to his death while the other's body floated down lifelessly under an open canopy.
Ron Payne, 21, of Luther, and a 26 year old Edmond man, both members of the Sooner Parachute Association, died about 5:15 p.m. in the fall at the association's jumping area four miles southeast of Guthrie in Logan County, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.
Authorities were withholding the identity of the Edmond man pending notification of relatives.
The accident happened after the pair and two other parachutists jumped out of a single-engine plane at 7,500 feet to perform a "freefall formation," association officials said.
One of the jumpers opened his chute sooner than expected and Payne - descending directly above him - fell through his canopy and collided with him, the officials said.
The two struck at 120 miles per hour and both men apparently were killed by the impact, the officials said.
"I saw the first canopy open up. At the point, I turned my head to make sure I was clear of everybody. I didn't see the collision. All I knew was that the one chute had opened early. I didn't know anything had happened until I landed," said Larry Olandese, 23 of Edmond.
Neither he nor Joey Snyder, 21, Luther, who were the other two jumpers, knew of the tragedy until they were on the ground, he said.
About 10 group members watching from the ground saw Payne plummet to earth. "After he tumbled over three or four times, we realized he was probably dead or unconscious. It was just a matter of whether he would regain his consciousness in time to open his chute," said member John Combs, Edmond.
They saw the other parachute make a slow descent, not knowing the jumper it carried was dead.
When the mid-air collision occurred, "The parachute deflated, but then it reinflated and came down, erratically, but a normal descent," said Combs, Edmond.
It was undetermined why the jumper opened his chute "prematurely" at about 5,000 feet, the officials said. The jumpers usually open their chutes at about 2,500 feet in that type of exercise, the officials said.
The unidentified jumper whose body came down in the parachute landed just east of the jumping zone in a pasture area. Payne's body, with the unopened chute still in place, was found more than a mile southeast of there, said Highway Patrol Lt. W. C. Smith.
The four jumpers, who had planned to make a "four-man star" formation, knew one another and had jumped together before, association members said.