20-year-old Naples man memorialized after skydiving death
A memorial service was held Wednesday for a 20-year-old Naples man who died while skydiving last weekend.
Justin Swaggerty died during a skydiving trip in South Carolina. Swaggerty’s mother says he loved aviation and died while studying in the Carolinas.
Friends and family gathered at Seagate Beach Park in Collier County to remember Swaggerty.
People we spoke to told us Swaggerty was a one-of-a-kind individual. And loved ones gathered dressed in white to show that he is in heaven now.
“His laugh and his smile, I think everyone here would tell you that too,” said Jayson Andino, Swaggerty’s best friend.
“He was just a fantastic person. He was my go-to, my best friend, my shoulder to cry on,” said Makenna O’Malley. “He was my first love.”
“It felt like my stomach dropped six feet,” said Brad Mckvleen, a friend and former coach/mentor of Swaggerty.
Skydive Carolina says Swaggerty died Saturday trying to land his parachute. It says his parachute deployed fine. But, while he was trying to land, he hit a plane.
Friends and family were focused on the impact Swaggerty had on those around him as they lit lanterns and laid flowers on his behalf.
“I know there is a lot of people here,” Andino said. “And you think, ‘How could he touch this many lives?’ But, in a way, he did. And , amazingly, everyone can come together and share stories.”
“Justin loved his mom more than anything,” McKvleen said. “And everything was about sticking up for his mom and doing the right thing for his mom.”
Swaggerty’s mother said his smile could light up the room. And he always dreamed of being a pilot. His friends and family say they still don’t feel like his death has become reality.
Everyone at Swaggerty’s memorial wanted him to know he was loved.
“If I had one last thing to say to him I would just tell him that I need him and love him so much,” O’Malley said. “And he meant so much to me. But, you know, God needed him more than we did.”