Experienced skydiver dies after hard landing in Chester County
The skydiver who died after a jump in Chester County Thursday had been jumping out of airplanes for about 50 years, her husband said.
Carolyn Clay, 68, of Williamsburg, Va., was jumping with SkyDive Carolina. She died from trauma after a hard landing, said Terry Tinker, Chester County coroner.
Clay had done more than 15,000 jumps, according to SkyDive Carolina. Online postings state that number was closer to 20,000 jumps.
Clay's husband, Charles, said Friday morning by telephone from Virginia he is still "at a loss" over his wife's death. She had skydived for most of five decades, he said.
The couple was set to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary on Monday, Charles Clay said.
Charles Clay used to skydive jump with his wife, he said.
"That's how we met, skydiving," Charles Clay said.
Charles Clay said Carolyn Clay was in the Navy decades ago and looking for something to do on the weekends when she discovered skydiving.
"She never stopped doing it," Charles Clay said.
Charles Clay said his wife's enthusiasm for the sport never wavered.
Social media and online postings tell how Clay had traveled around the country participating in jumps. A news account in 1998 referred to Clay as the "queen" of skydiving.
Other postings shows Clay participated in jumps around the country that set world records for numbers of tandem jumpers.
The couple had no children, Charles Clay said. Carolyn Clay has two sisters, he said.
Tinker said there was no equipment failure. He attributed the death to "diver error."
"This is a case of diver error, or you could call it human error, in the part of the skydiver," Tinker said.
The investigation into the woman's death continues.
Her main parachute opened properly, said SkyDive Carolinas officials in a statement
SkyDive Carolinas spokesman Ryan Levesque said in a written statement the main parachute was "safely deployed," but that the woman then experienced a "malfunction."
Emergency responders from Chester EMS, emergency management, sheriff's office, and volunteer fire departments responded.
The airport is near Lowrys, in northwestern Chester County, about 25 miles southwest of Rock Hill.
Skydive Carolina has operated a jump business at the airport in Chester for years, said Eddie Murphy, Chester County Emergency Management Director.
The company continued with its annual "CarolinaFest" event Friday, officials said.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065, @AndrewDysHerald