Friends and family mourn the loss of local woman killed while skydiving in South Carolina

Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-05 13:48:48-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Carolyn Clay, 69, was known as the queen of skydiving who flew effortlessly in the air.

"She basically took charge of the room when she came in," said Tara Glenn who works at Skydive Suffolk. "As soon as she walked in everyone was like, 'Oh my God, that's Carolyn.'"

Clay was killed while making a hard landing fall after a parachute malfunction around 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

“I’m not sure if it’s fully sunk in. I have my moments, but all in all I’m doing pretty well," her husband, Charles, told News 3's Aleah Hordges.

Clay said although it was a tragic accident, she died doing something she loved.

"Most of us will do something for a while and when the new wears off, we'll move on to something else; well, that new never wore off," he said.

The Chester County Coroner's Office said she received blunt force trauma in connection to the fall.

"We were checking in at the aviation museum to do our beach jumps this morning and a lot of people were talking about it," Glenn added. "There was a lot of sadness going around."

Clay was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1949.

She made her first jump 20 years later while working as a telecommunications specialist in the Navy.

Charles said that skydiving started as a cure for boredom while based in Maryland and then it turned into a passion.

He said Carolyn reached almost 20,000 jumps and gained more than 370 hours of free fall time.

Those who knew her said Clay inspired to be hard-core and fearless like her despite setting numerous world records and earning many awards.

"The drive I had after jumping - it was just incredible because if I can face my biggest fear, which is the fear of heights out of an airplane, I can do anything like, literally," mentioned Glenn. "I think that was a huge part of it for her."

Clay's friends said they're attaching paper crowns to their rigs while jumping at the Patriotic Festival in her memory.

The Federal Aviation Administration is helping investigate the accident.