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Skydiver known for competition in high-speed 'swooping' killed in accident in Florida

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DELAND, Florida — A skydiver known for her abilities in a high-speed subset of the sport known as "swooping" was killed after her parachute's canopy hit another canopy midair, authorities said Thursday.

Jessica Edgeington, 33, of Villa Rica, Georgia, died Wednesday afternoon after flying out of Skydive DeLand, said DeLand police Lt. Bruce Morehouse. Detectives were still investigating.

Edgeington made more than 6,000 jumps and competed in canopy piloting, whose participants are known as "swoopers." Competitors typically jump from a plane at 5,000 feet and then must maneuver the parachute, sometimes with twists and turns, to skim the surface of a pond between a series of buoys. Then they must perform either a 75-degree turn, a precision landing inside a 2-by-2-meter area, or a distance glide.

The swoopers reach speeds of up to 90 miles an hour as they descend. It's all designed to test the parachutist's ability to control the chute — also known as a canopy — and how accurately they can land. The sport canopy parachutes are more rectangular and look different from a rounded-top parachute.

"It's not necessarily scary to jump out of the plane anymore," Edgeington said in May 2014, when she was interviewed by The Associated Press while competing in Florida for a spot on the U.S. Parachute Team.

"I get competition nerves when I'm at something like this. So that's probably the most nerve wracking thing, is getting ready to compete. Trying to perform and do your best. Hopefully not mess up."

The Daytona Beach News-Journal (http://goo.gl/vuJHVa) reports that this is the second parachuting death in DeLand this year and the ninth since 2005.

A U.S. Navy SEAL from New Hampshire died in January while parachute training in DeLand.

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