Southlake dad dies in fall from Florida hotel balcony - Dallas News |

Southlake dad dies in fall from Florida hotel balcony

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An investigation is underway after a 62-year-old Southlake man fell from a 12th floor balcony of a Panama City Beach hotel.

Police said Thomas H. Saunders was chaperoning a group of spring breakers staying at the Holiday Inn Resort. He fell Wednesday onto the hotel lobby's roof.

The News Herald of Panama City reported Saunders' daughter and her four friends were sleeping in the hotel room when he fell.

Friends told FOX 4 he had been on the balcony having coffee with his girlfriend. She went inside and when she came back out he'd fallen.

Saunders' friends said they believe he had some sort of medical emergency. Surveillance video apparently showed him stagger back toward the railing and lean forward.

The American Airlines captain suffered a mild stroke last year and was on medical leave, they said.

Panama City Beach police said they do not suspect foul play. Hotel management told the newspaper the incident appeared to be accidental and was not alcohol-related.

An autopsy will try to determine his exact cause of death.

Saunders enjoyed spending his free time racing autocross with his custom car.

His Southlake home is filled with memorabilia and family pictures, including many showing Saunders and his youngest daughter, Rachel, competing together.

Just last weekend, Saunders and a friend, Greg Piper, were busy rebuilding Saunders' racing car, preparing for the upcoming autocross season.

Piper says Saunders was well known and well liked in the racing circuit.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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