Texas Girl Survives 3,000 Foot Fall In Skydiving Accident
A 16-year-old Texas girl is listed in good condition after falling more than 3,000 feet in an Oklahoma skydiving accident.
Makenzie Wethington was flown to OU Medical Center Saturday from a skydiving school in Chickasha, Okla. She had a liver injury as well as a broken pelvis, lumbar spine, shoulder blade and several ribs, according to trauma surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Bender. She also had a broken tooth.
"I don't know the particulars of the accident as I wasn't there. But if she truly fell 3,000 feet, I have no idea how she survived," Bender said at a hospital press conference.
Wethington was listed in good condition Tuesday and expected to leave the intensive care unit soon. Bender says it will be several weeks before Wethington’s body will be capable of bearing weight.
Her parents agreed to let her jump, but her father, Joe Wethington, now says he thinks the skydiving company shouldn’t have allowed it.
"I don't think she should have been allowed at 16 to go up there and perform that type of jump, no matter what I say or she says, she shouldn't have been allowed," Joe Wethington said. "I find it very hard to believe that the rules and regulations in Oklahoma are that lax. I think there is a flaw there somewhere, and I don't think it's through the state of Oklahoma. I think it's the company. I'm not sure."
Owner and chief instructor at Pegasus Air Sports Center, Robert Swainson, said the girl’s father accompanied her on the trip and was the first to jump. The pair was reportedly given a six-to-seven hour training session beforehand.
Swainson said the teen was making a static-line jump, where her parachute opened automatically when she exited the plane. The parachute went out, not up, and Makenzie was left spiraling towards the ground.
She had a radio in her helmet through which someone allegedly tried to instruct her to fix the problem.
"It was correctable, but corrective action didn't appear to have been taken," said Swainson.
Swainson said he did not jump to try to help the teen because the next jumper on the plane was frightened and refused to make their jump. He says protocol maintains that he must remain with the frightened jumper because it is uncertain what that person will do.
"The most I could have done is screamed," he said.
Certain skydive areas do not allow jumpers younger than 18 or below a certain weight participate.