The pilot was flying an experimental aerobatic airplane on a local aerobatic flight. Following an aerobatic sequence, the airplane pitched down abruptly and entered a 70-degree nose down attitude until impact with the ocean. A witness flying in the area heard the pilot declare a "mayday" but the pilot did not indicate the nature of the emergency.
An additional witness saw something depart the airplane when it was approximately 500 feet above the water during the descent. The pilot's restraint system was found unlatched, and the pilot was found outside of the airplane with his parachute deployed. The canopy was not recovered.
The pilot had apparently initiated an emergency egress from the aircraft, suggesting that he was not incapacitated at the time of the accident. No evidence of any pre-impact mechanical anomalies was discovered during a thorough examination of the recovered wreckage.