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June 18, 2013
Skydive mishap claims woman

A Grantsville woman has died from injuries she sustained in a skydiving accident at Tooele Valley Airport.

Collette Yeaman, 28, died Sunday night at a Salt Lake hospital as a result of injuries she suffered while descending that afternoon at about 12:45 p.m.

Lt. Jeff Morgan of the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, said eye witnesses reported that Yeaman performed a standard jump from 13,500 feet above the ground and free-falled for about 60 seconds before she deployed her parachute, which opened without incident.

However, when Yeaman was about 75 to 90 feet above the ground, she reportedly pulled the parachute’s toggle cord to turn into the wind, Morgan said.

While doing so, she inadvertently went into a spiral dive and ended parallel to the ground at about 30 miles per hour.

Responding emergency personnel reported that Yeaman was conscious and had a broken femur, broken arm and possible broken nose. She was transported by helicopter to a Salt Lake hospital for treatment and further evaluation. She passed away late that night.

Jack Guthrie, owner of Skydive Utah, said Yeaman’s death has been difficult for skydivers in the area.

“We’re a pretty close-knit society,” he said. “She was a good, close friend, even though we had only known her for a short time. It brings tears to our eyes. It’s tragic — it’s like losing an aunt or an uncle. There’s nothing that will convey our sadness, the tears that we shed.”

Yeaman was fairly new at the sport, having had two tandem falls, six assisted free-fall jumps and 17 solo jumps before the incident, Morgan said.

He added she was reportedly using a 190-square-foot parachute for the first time, having used a 260-square-foot beginner parachute on her other jumps.

The last fatal skydiving incident in Tooele County occurred in May 2003, when a skydiver reportedly miscalculated his distance from the ground and hit another skydiver in mid-air.

Both he and the other skydiver were able to open their parachutes, but the first was unconscious when he hit the ground. He died the next day from his injuries.

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