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Escape artist pulls off locked coffin skydive

Updated: Tuesday, August 6 2013, 02:19 PM PDT
Escape artist pulls off locked coffin skydive  story image

Andrea Thomas - Associated Press

SERENA, Ill. -- A Wisconsin daredevil parachuted
gently into a northern Illinois field Tuesday after managing to free
himself from shackles and a locked coffin while plummeting through the

Anthony Martin waved to the cameras and the crowd that turned
out to watch his stunt after he landed in Serena, Ill., about 70 miles
southwest of Chicago.

After being dragged from a plane at about
14,500 feet up, the coffin whipped wildly from side-to-side with Martin
inside. One of the two skydivers who were steadying the box was hit in
the face, but everyone landed safely.

Martin, 47, said that after
freeing himself, he got clear of the coffin and tracked it as it fell to
the ground, just as he did when he first pulled off the stunt 25 years
ago on just his 17th skydive.

The Sheboygan, Wis., man began
studying the art of escape at age 6 after his father shattered his early
fascination with magic by explaining the trickery behind a floating pen

"I thought that skill and knowledge could surpass trickery and magic," he said.

Martin took locks apart until he understood how the mechanisms operate and are put together.

10 I had pretty much started to specialize in escapes," Martin says.
"By the time I was 13, the sheriff was locking me in his handcuffs. And I
was getting out."

Jumping from a raft into a lake at age 11 —
naturally, with his hands cuffed behind his back — whet Martin's
appetite for high risk escapes. So in February 1990, he performed his
most dangerous water stunt, in which he was locked in a cage and lowered
through a hole in the ice and into the frigid water at a Wisconsin
quarry. It took him one minute and 45 seconds to emerge.

"It was
very, very cold," Martin said. "It doesn't take long for your fingers,
even with gloves, to get numb and lose effectiveness ... you have to
work very quickly."

Martin first pulled off dropped coffin stunt in an August 1988 on just his 17th skydive.

Tuesday's jump, Martin laid inside a plywood box with his hands cuffed
to a belt around his waist and his right arm chained to the inside of
the box. The casket's door was then held tight with a prison door lock
for which no key exists; a locksmith scrambled the tumblers.

box was dragged from the plane at about 14,500 feet, and two skydivers
helped stabilize it by holding handles on its side while a drogue
similar to the parachutes used to slow drag-racing cars and fighter jets
further steadied it.

Escape artist pulls off locked coffin skydive
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