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Wed, Jul 30, 2008

Officials Hope Helmet Cam Sheds Light On Fatal Accident

23-Year-Old Skydiver Lost On His 299th Jump

Investigators into a deadly skydiving accident last weekend have recovered the victim's helmet-mounted camera, a find they hope will help them understand what went wrong.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Olen Reid Ashe III, a 23-year-old student at Georgia Tech, was making his 299th career jump Saturday afternoon at SkydiveTheFarm in Rockmart. He had hoped to hit the 300 mark by the end of the weekend.

But something went tragically wrong. On his third jump of the day, from 14,000 feet, witnesses say Ashe entered a spin about 3,000 feet above the ground. He landed hard, and was killed instantly.

Police were able to retrieve Ashe's heavily-damaged helmet camera, and planned to turn it over to the FAA in the hopes some video might be recovered to shed light on the cause of the accident.

"That will help out a lot more about what happened," said Polk County police Detective Joe Weldon. "We're hoping it will reveal if he went into a spin ... if a string broke or if his chute even opened."

Ashe was the son of Olen Reid Ashe Jr., executive VP and chief operating officer of Media General Inc. The Richmond, GA-based company owns several media-related properties throughout the southeastern US, including the Tampa Tribune. The younger Ashe had been skydiving since his freshman year in college.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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