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1992 Miss North Carolina USA Killed in Skydiving Accident

September 21, 1992

FARMVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ A beauty queen who took up skydiving to conquer her fear of heights died in a parachuting accident, authorities said Monday.

Tess Elliott, 23, Miss North Carolina USA, fell to her death Sunday when she became entangled in her parachute lines, said Pitt County Sheriff’s Maj. Donnie Hudson.

Miss Elliott apparently choked to death after the lines from her main parachute and an auxiliary parachute became entangled, according to her mother, Elaine Key.

After she was named Miss North Carolina USA last November, Miss Elliott competed in February in the Miss USA pageant in Wichita, Kan. She was among 11 semifinalists.

″To overcome my fear of heights, I learned to skydive,″ Miss Elliott said in a profile she submitted to pageant officials.

She was a member of a skydiving club that was flying out of a small airstrip near Farmville.

Mrs. Key said her daughter was packing two parachutes. When the first one didn’t activate after she jumped from the plane, Miss Elliott pulled the cord on the auxiliary parachute. As the second parachute opened, the first one activated as well.

It was Miss Elliott’s third jump, Mrs. Key said. The first time Miss Elliott jumped, she skinned her chin but didn’t tell her mother until she’d completed a second, more successful jump.

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