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    Ex-anchor survives skydiving accident

    By JOHN BALZ, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published August 11, 2002

    Seventy-year-old Arch Deal, a former television news anchor with a passion for skydiving, broke both his legs and suffered internal injuries Saturday afternoon during a jump in Zephyrhills.

    This was the second time the avid jumper has survived a hard landing.

    Deal, of Odessa, jumped Saturday with 21 others, from 14,500 feet over Skydive City, a 14-acre facility in eastern Pasco County.

    The group planned to form a "50" in the sky, to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the jumpers. Deal's main chute malfunctioned but the reserve chute opened properly, said T.K. Hayes, Skydive City's general manager. As Deal glided toward the ground he made a hard, low turn, Hayes said, and crashed in an open field at roughly 4:30 p.m.

    "I'm afraid this may be a career-ending injury," Hayes said.

    Rescuers took him to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, said Sgt. David Shears of the Zephyrhills Police Department. A hospital spokeswoman declined to give Deal's condition, at the request of family.

    The adventurous Deal has made more than 5,000 jumps in his life, escaping death during a 1975 Cypress Gardens jump.

    Falling from 3,000 feet, Deal hit the ground at 120 mph after a chute malfunction. In what he later called his "big bounce," Deal suffered a broken pelvis, broken neck and cracked ribs.

    Three months later, he was back at work at WFLA-Ch. 8.

    An anchor at Ch. 8 from 1957-75, Deal worked as a sky traffic reporter for radio station WRBQ-FM 104.7 before leaving in 1992.

    Deal headed a skydive team called the American Fall Guys and performed promotional jumps for Miller Brewing Co.

    In semiretirement, he operates the Voice of Business from his Odessa home studio, recording narrations and phone hold messages for local restaurants.

    -- Staff writer Craig Basse contributed to this report.

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