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Girl, 16, survives fall of over 3,000ft


Posted on Friday, 31 January, 2014 | Comment icon 37 comments

Makenzie's chute failed to deploy properly. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Makenzie Wethington had been on a skydiving trip as a treat for her birthday when disaster struck.
The 16-year-old had jumped from the plane over Oklahoma when her parachute became tangled and failed to open properly. Instructors had attempted to offer her assistance over a headset, however she appeared to black out and subsequently plummeted more than 3,000ft to the ground.

As emergency crews rushed to the scene they were amazed to discover that despite some serious injuries, Makenzie was still very much alive. The impact had broken her pelvis, lumbar spine and shoulder blade but thanks to prompt medical intervention she was able to pull through. Doctors are optimistic that she will be able to leave the hospital's intensive care unit soon.

"I don't know the particulars of the accident, as I wasn't there," said trauma surgeon Dr Jeffrey Bender. "But if she truly fell 3,000ft, I have no idea how she survived."

Source: Independent | Comments (37)

Tags: Skydiving.Parachute

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #28 Posted by Still Waters on 1 February, 2014, 15:42
Mr Swainson said Makenzie's parachute opened correctly but she began to spiral downward when the chute went up, but not out. He said divers were given instruction during a six-to-seven-hour training session on how to deal with such problems.He also said Makenzie had a radio hook-up in her helmet through which someone gave her instructions. It's possible she would have coped with it had she not blacked out. Poor girl must have been terrified and I can understand why her father would want to blame somebody in his anger. Luckily she survived her ordeal.
Comment icon #29 Posted by Razer on 2 February, 2014, 0:43
Both the diving co. and father were very irresponsible - how the heck was she going to know how to guide her chute and land correctly? No amount of theory is comparable to a live test - safely attached to the instructor fgs. As a gift around the same age, I had a static line jump like that and my father had to sign for me because I was not 18. Basically you have a few hours of instruction, go up in the plane with a chord attached that opens your chute shortly after you jump out. As far as guiding the chute correctly it is pretty easy, pull down on the right toggle to turn right and the left on... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by Kazahel on 2 February, 2014, 2:46
As far as guiding the chute correctly it is pretty easy, pull down on the right toggle to turn right and the left one to turn left, For me there was a man one the ground with a giant red arrow that he would turn to let me know which way to go. I was able to land right where he guided me and it was a soft landing. They did train us pretty well, it was all very serious as it should have been. Same for me when I did my first static jump from 5000 feet. I jumped as a gift for myself on my 18th. We had to train midweek before the Saturday jump and we then trained on the day again. We used the big a... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Likely Guy on 2 February, 2014, 3:23
My brother's first jump was in 1973 when he was 15 (static line). He threw me out for my 30th birthday (20 years ago) and they stopped using statics years before that. They pull your pilot-chute out of a pocket and get you to climb out onto the planes strut and you let go, head up, limbs flared. Even 20 years ago, there's a ground contoller with you on radio. That was at 2,500 feet. Lot's of time. Tandem jumps are expensive, but then again, the people at drop zones are making a living too. It an expensive sport.
Comment icon #32 Posted by Likely Guy on 2 February, 2014, 3:26
...It's one of the best feelings in the world... It took me about three hours to wipe the smile off my face.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Kazahel on 2 February, 2014, 17:20
My brother's first jump was in 1973 when he was 15 (static line). He threw me out for my 30th birthday (20 years ago) and they stopped using statics years before that. They pull your pilot-chute out of a pocket and get you to climb out onto the planes strut and you let go, head up, limbs flared. Even 20 years ago, there's a ground contoller with you on radio. That was at 2,500 feet. Lot's of time. Tandem jumps are expensive, but then again, the people at drop zones are making a living too. It an expensive sport. Yeah I made an error mine was from 3000 feet(static), I just looked at my old cert... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by Cassea on 11 February, 2014, 0:16
I'm a skydiver and these reports are misleading. The girl had a malfunction on her main. She had a spinning malfunction into the ground. She had a canopy open, but she had a malfunction. Let me say this, NO ONE has ever survived a terminal velocity fall from a skydive without some sort of canopy open above their heads. This was a USPA dropzone and it was a static line jump. She jumped out of the plane and a line automatically deploys her main parachute. for some reason, she did not or could not begin her emergency procedures to cutaway her main and deploy her reserve. She stayed in the spinnin... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by pallidin on 11 February, 2014, 6:58
I also agree, 'cause I doubt she could have survived that fall without some "slowing" action from the partially deployed chute. Realizing she still suffered serious injuiries, of course. The ground composition(hard or soft) and body posture upon impact, I suppose, also are important factors regarding survivalbility. And the very quick medical response I'm sure also helped.
Comment icon #36 Posted by :PsYKoTiC:BeHAvIoR: on 11 February, 2014, 15:59
Terrifying. I hope she fully recovers, both physically and emotionally.
Comment icon #37 Posted by cgowens on 18 February, 2014, 5:14
What about people that have been thrown from a plane and survived. There was one that was a WW2 pilot and there was one that was a flight attendant when a bomb I believe went off. They had no canopy open above their heads and they lived. I doubt the veracity of those stories.


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