Georgia Tech skydiver dies as parachute malfunctions

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A 23-year-old Georgia Tech student died in a skydiving accident Saturday afternoon in Rockmart.

Polk County Deputy Coroner Tony Brazier said Olen Reid Ashe III’s primary parachute malfunctioned, and he was unable to deploy his emergency chute in time to slow his fall.

Brazier pronounced Ashe dead at the scene from massive external and internal injuries at 4:30 p.m.

Polk County police are investigating the accident but could not be reached for comment.

Ashe and three friends were skydiving at Skydive The Farm, a 55-acre private farm in Rockmart. Ashe’s first two jumps of the day were uneventful, but his third — the 299th of his skydiving career — went awry.

Hans Paulsen, the owner of Skydive The Farm, was jumping tandem with one of Ashe’s friends at the same time. The group leapt out of a Twin Otter propeller plane at about 14,000 feet.

Paulsen said he released his chute at about 5,000 feet and then he saw Ashe spinning out of control after releasing his primary chute. Ashe detached the malfunctioning chute and released his reserve chute at less than 200 feet, not high enough to prevent a fatal impact.

Ashe, who often went by his middle name Reid, was something of a regular at Skydive The Farm and two other similar facilities in the area, Paulsen said. He added that Ashe was a “great guy” and a talented skydiver who participated in Georgia Tech’s skydiving club.

Brazier said he called Ashe’s family in Richmond to tell them the news.

“They’re in total shock,” he said.


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