Friday, August 02, 2013

Elgin, Illinois, woman killed in skydiving accident, 'chased after her dreams'

Stephanie Eggum's father said that his daughter died while practicing a jump that involved 40 to 50 people who linked hands before separating and plunging headfirst into a "vertical dive." 
(Facebook photo)

An Elgin woman well known in racing and skydiving circles died during a jump in LaSalle County, officials said. 

 Stephanie Eggum, 32, had cut her main parachute for some reason but deployed her reserve chute at low altitude and plummeted into a corn field north of Ottawa around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

The LaSalle County sheriff's office and the LaSalle County coroner's office were investigating.

Eggum, who graduated from Jacobs High School in Algonquin, was a shy girl as a child. After she turned 18 and moved to Chicago to enroll in beautician’s school, she met friends who sparked her interest in skydiving, said her father, Jim Eggum.

There was no stopping her after that, her father said. She began drag-racing after a few years of skydiving, then returned to skydiving again.

“She chased after her dreams, traveled all over the country and all over the world,” he said.

Eggum said that his daughter died while practicing a jump that involved 40 to 50 people who linked hands while plunging headfirst into a “vertical dive” and then separating.

She was planning to participate in an event sponsored by Sky Dive Chicago scheduled for the next day, said Eggum, who learned about her fall after receiving a call from the Sky Dive Chicago owner.

“She was very careful. What happened was just a bad accident,” he said.

According to a 2004 Chicago Tribune story, Eggum said she had temporarily stopped jumping from planes after she was injured in a skydiving accident.

Eggum, then 23 and a former hairdresser, moved back into her parents' home in West Dundee after suffering a concussion in the accident in 2001.

She and her father developed an interest in drag racing.

Eggum spent two years competing as an amateur in the NOPI Drag Racing Association's all-women Chic Class. Her success led her to turn pro in 2004, the only woman in NOPI's Nitrous Express Pro 4 Cylinder Class, according to the story.

Eggum said other drivers had been very supportive of her and her crew chief despite being "the ultimate rookies" at the sport.

"I'd love to continue to do this," she said at the time. "It's amazing."


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