MOSS POINT - An award-winning skydiver was killed New Year's Eve night attempting a high-speed stunt landing. Michael "Scotty" Agent, a Gulfport resident and six-year employee of Gold Coast Skydivers in Moss Point, was attempting a "high performance" parachute landing when a low turn went wrong and he hit the ground at high speed, officials said.
Agent, 34, suffered severe head trauma and was rushed from a landing site at Trent Lott International Airport to Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, where he died just after 10 p.m.
"Everybody is just walking around awestruck," Mike Igo, owner of Gold Coast Skydivers, said of the mood at the office Thursday morning. "We haven't even flown today."
Igo said many skydivers enjoy jumping at night, particularly on a night like New Year's Eve.
"It is pretty out there with the fireworks and all," he said.
Injuries from stunt landings are becoming more frequent in the world of skydiving as more sophisticated gear is developed and avid practitioners work to develop more daring maneuvers, Igo said.
"It's just speed," he said. "People are pushing the limits."
Agent's gear was functioning properly.
Agent was no amateur. A bronze medal winner in landing accuracy at last year's Skydiving Nationals, Agent served as videographer for Gold Coast Skydivers for several years. Gold Coast Skydivers provides skydiving trips and training.
"He was a very capable canopy pilot, but the difference between a very awesome high-speed landing and doing what he did is a matter of seconds or a few feet," Igo said.
Moss Point police responded to the emergency call at 9:22 p.m. The cause of death listed by the coroner was "massive head trauma."
Igo said that of the 3 million jumps made last year, only 28 fatalities were reported.
"Statistically, it's a very safe sport. But when you see accidents happen that could have been prevented, that's when it's time to talk about it."