What started off as a wonderful spring break get away to Florida, ended when a 62-year-old father died tragically after falling from the 12th-floor balcony while chaperoning his daughter and her friends.
Thomas Saunders, from Southlake, Texas, is believed to have fallen from the 12th-floor balcony onto the first floor roof at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead at the scene outside the Holiday Inn Resort in Panama City Beach, Florida per CBSlocal.
Captain Robert Clarkson with the Panama City Beach Police Department, says there is no indication that foul play was involved or that alcohol played a factor in his death.
Close family friend, Greg Piper, said that Saunders had been drinking coffee with his girlfriend while sitting out on the balcony of his hotel room. His girlfriend went inside and Saunders stood up, but never made it in, according to Piper. “Its a shock to everybody” says Piper, who also lives with Saunders.
Police Captain Clarkson says “Every indication is that he had a horrible accident and fell over the railing.”
The investigation is ongoing to determine how and why he fell.
Thomas Saunders, worked as a Boeing 777 captain for American Airlines. He is survived by his three daughters. Rachel Saunders, the youngest, was on the vacation in Florida with her dad and girlfriends, as her father agreed to chaperone the trip.
When the tragic incident occurred, Rachel and her friends were fast asleep in their hotel room. She expressed her shock and heartbreak over his death through a tweet saying “I can’t believe this…It doesn’t feel real.” Rachel followed with another touching comment later in the day revealing “I didn’t know it was possible to feel this heartbroken.”
Coincidentally, this is the second North Texas man to fall to his death recently while on vacation. Just four days prior to Thomas Saunders fatal incident, John Anderson, 53, from Grapevine died tragically from a 350-foot fall at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Father Dies Tragically While Chaperoning Daughter and Friends on Spring Break Trip