In probably one of the scariest nightmares that one can imagine, a thrill-seeking skydiving adventure Saturday took a turn for the worst as a Texas teen’s parachute malfunctioned during the dive.
Makenzie Wethington, 16, went on a skydiving trip for her birthday at Pegasus Air Sports Center in Oklahoma. Her and her father, Joe, took the six- hour safety training class and then boarded a small aircraft to perform a “static line” jump.
In this type of jump, a cord is attached to the deployment bag on the skydiver and the aircraft. The tether in this case was set to have the parachute deploy two seconds after the jump. The girl’s father jumped first and watched in horror as Makenzie spun out of control and into the Earth.
“Her chute opens (and) she starts spinning,” her father tells Today News. “She went into a spiral and spiraled all the way down, 3,500 feet.”
Robert Swainson, the owner and chief instructor at Pegasus Air Sports Center in Chickasha, said that the parachute had opened up “OK,” and could have began to twist for several reasons but he told CBS News, “It was correctable, but corrective action didn’t appear to have been taken.”
The teen has a lacerated liver and broken pelvis, lumbar vertebrae, shoulder blade, and several ribs. She also has a broken tooth, but will be healed in six to eight weeks with very little long term damage. If any at all.
Skydiving accidents, according to the United States Parachutes Association, resulted in 19 fatalities in 2012, out of 3.1 million jumps in the United States. That accounts for approximately 0.006 per 1,000 jumps or less than 1 percent. This is rate is much lower than fatalities from automobile accidents.
In all, she is doing very well according to Wethington. “She’s the toughest kid I ever met. With all that is going on right now, she hasn’t shed one tear.”
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on twitter @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at www.SCRhyne.com