Francis (Frank) Geary, 35, who died in a parachuting accident Sunday near Woodbine, Md., was a sergeant in the Rockville Police Force.

Sgt. Geary landed about 20 feet above the ground in a tree, and accidentally strangled while trying to release his reserve parachute harness from his chest and neck, according to the Carroll County medical examiner.

A farmer heard Sgt. Geary's call for help and called a fire department rescue squad. Sgt. Geary was dead by the time the rescue squad arrived.

He had joined the Rockville police in 1975. At the time of his death he was operations sergeant and head of the combined city and county burglary unit.

He also was head of Rockville's canine unit, and with his partner of even year. "Blackie," a German shepherd, taught a number of courses in canine handling to area police forces and the Secret Service.

According to Rockville Police Chief Charles R. Wall, Sgt. Geary was nationally known for his dog-handling ability and helped develop the Rockville program.

The three dogs in the Rockville force are primarily used in bomb detection.

Sgt. Geary was a native of the Baltimore area.He earned a bachelor's degree in public administration at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

He served in the Marines from 1961 to 1965.

He began his police career in 1965 as a Maryland trooper working out of St. Mary's County. He later joined the state police's canine corps, where he first teamed with Blackie, and worked at bomb detection with the FAA at airports.

Sgt. Geary, as do all canine officers, lived as well as worked with his "partner".

He kept Blackie when he joined the Rockville force in 1975 with the understanding that both he and the dog would be available to the state police if needed, according to Chief Wall.

In addition to his police duties, Sgt. Geary had taught self-defense in the law enforcement program at Montgomery College for the past two years.

He was a certified scuba instructor, and began sky-diving last month, as a hobby.

Survivors include a brother, Donald, of Delaware.