A woman who was well known in the skydiving community died during a skydiving accident in Hendry County on Saturday. WINK News spoke with a man who jumped with her and saw what led to disaster.
Gregg Flowers said Susan Sweetman had what skydivers call “Line twists”. That means when she pulled her parachute, the lines were twisted so the parachute couldn’t open all the way.
So that begs the question; What about the reserve parachute? Flowers said the timing is everything, and there wasn’t enough this time.
Flowers says as Sweetman was falling, he was praying. “I said, you know, lord, please protect her and help her because she was below an altitude where she could do anything.”
He was praying, unable to help, as the last seconds of Sweetmans life were soaring away.
“She struggled with those line twists too long,” said Flowers.
Many important questions were left unanswered when Sweetman died, like how the lines got twisted to the point where she couldn’t fix them.
Flowers said, “well, that’s a good question. The problem is, this is an altitude thing. She cut away at 200 feet. Which is way, way too late.”
Still, Sweetman will not be remembered for doing things too late, but usually for being the first.
“A 13-time national competitor, had won medals, and the USPA national skydiving championships,” said Flowers.
There’s no medal or award to show how she championed hearts in the sky and on the ground.
Flowers said, “she was the nicest person. Oh, my goodness. She was the nicest person you would ever want to meet. I really really liked her and it wrecked. All of us. It wrecked all of us that when that happened. You know we’re still wrecked.”
WINK News spoke with Rick Hornsby, the owner of Skydive Spaceland, the company that Sweetman was jumping with when she died. He said he was too distraught over to do an interview.
Hornsby released a statement that reads:
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 dive of the day. Following a successful, uneventful 7-person skydive, she had a problem with her primary parachute. She released it very low to the ground and did not activate her backup parachute. Weather was not a factor.
Her personal skydiving equipment was found to be in good repair. At 65 years of age, Sue was a very active skydiver who had reported 6790 previous skydives.
Hornsby also said Sweetman will be “greatly missed” by the skydiving community.