65-Year-Old Experienced Skydiver Dies After Apparent Parachute Malfunction: 'Greatly Missed'

·2 min read
Susan Sweetman
Susan Sweetman


A recent skydiving trip in Florida turned tragic for a 65-year-old woman after she reportedly encountered issues with her equipment while in freefall.

According to WINK, the body of a New Jersey resident — identified by authorities as Susan Sweetman — was recovered on the grounds of Airglades Airport in Hendry County on Saturday afternoon after witnesses said she had problems with her parachute while skydiving.

The owner of skydiving company Skydive Spaceland told WBBH that Sweetman was an experienced skydiver who was using her own equipment during the fatal jump.

The Hendry County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment on Thursday.

"She was kind of a Swiss Army knife of skydiving," a friend of Sweetman told WINK, adding that she was a record-holding skydiver and whether she was jumping competitively or just for fun, "she would do it well."

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Susan Sweetman
Susan Sweetman


In a statement to PEOPLE, a Skydive Spaceland representative said the company was "deeply saddened" by Saturday's accident.

"Skydive Spaceland Clewiston is deeply saddened to report that on Jan. 15, experienced skydiver Sue Sweetman of Hainesport, NJ, suffered a fatal accident on her second skydive of the day," the company said.

"Following a successful, uneventful 7-person skydive, she had a problem with her primary parachute," they added. "She released it very low to the ground and did not activate her backup parachute. Weather was not a factor."

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Sweetman's also equipment appeared to be in working condition, according to the company.

"At 65 years of age, Sue was a very active skydiver who had reported 6790 previous skydives," Skydive Spaceland continued in their statement. "Our hearts go out to all who knew and loved Sue. Her joyful attitude will be greatly missed."

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According to the United States Parachute Association, there were nearly 3 million skydiving jumps performed at USPA-affiliated skydiving centers across the country in 2020. Of those, only 11 deaths were recorded by the organization with a rate of 0.39 fatalities per 100,000 jumps.

Sweetman's death is still under investigation, WINK reported.