Girl survives 3,000 foot skydiving fall - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Girl survives 3,000 foot skydiving fall

Posted: Updated:

By JUSTIN JUOZAPAVICIUS and KRISTI EATON

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A 16-year-old Texas girl who plummeted more than 3,000 feet to the ground in an Oklahoma skydiving accident survived and is recovering from her many injuries, a doctor said Tuesday.

Dr. Jeffrey Bender, a trauma surgeon at OU Medical Center who treated Makenzie Wethington when she was flown Saturday from a skydiving school in Chickasha, said the girl hurt her liver and broke her pelvis, lumbar spine in her lower back, a shoulder blade and several ribs. She also has 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 news conference at the hospital, where the girl's parents also spoke to reporters.

Not only did she survive, but she was in good condition Tuesday, Bender said, and was expected to leave the intensive care unit. Still, she has a long recovery ahead. Bender said it will be several weeks before she can bear any weight.

The girl's parents agreed to let her perform the jump, but her father, Joe Wethington, now says 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 at the news conference. "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."

Nancy Koreen, director of sport promotion at the Fredericksburg, Va.-based U.S. Parachute Association, said its safety requirements allow someone who is 16 to make a dive with parental consent, though some drop zones set the age higher.

Robert Swainson, the owner and chief instructor at Pegasus Air Sports Center in Chickasha, defended the company Tuesday. He noted that the father went up with his daughter and was the first to jump.

Makenzie, from Joshua, Texas, was making a static-line jump, where a parachute is connected to a lanyard that's attached to the plane and opens automatically when a diver exits the plane.

Swainson said Wethington's parachute opened OK, but she began to spiral downward when the chute went up but not out in some kind of malfunction. Swainson said a parachute can develop such a turn for several reasons, but that Wethington and other divers were given instruction during a six-to-seven-hour training session beforehand on how to deal with such problems. He also said Makenzie had a radio hookup in her helmet through which someone gave her instructions.

"It was correctable, but corrective action didn't appear to have been taken," said Swainson, who has run the skydiving business for nearly 30 years.

Swainson said he did not jump out to help Wethington because there's no way he could have reached her and another jumper got cold feet and refused to make the jump. Swainson said it was protocol for him to remain with the frightened person because instructors don't know what that person will do.

"The most I could have done is screamed," he said.

Koreen, from the U.S. Parachute Association, spoke generally about skydiving rules and didn't want to directly comment on Makenzie's case. However, she agreed that a reluctant diver can't be left alone in a plane and that even if an instructor exited the plane, he wouldn't have been able to assist the student.

"You can't fly over the parachute and help somebody," she said.

___

Eaton contributed from Oklahoma City

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Montclair-Boonton trains face delays

    Montclair-Boonton trains face delays

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 6:20 AM EDT2014-08-20 10:20:21 GMT
    Workers continue making repairs after a New Jersey Transit train derailed on the Montclair-Boonton line.
    Workers continue making repairs after a New Jersey Transit train derailed on the Montclair-Boonton line. NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says passengers on that line are facing delays of up to 20 minutes in both directions on Wednesday because the railroad can only use one track. The train derailed between the Bay Street and Walnut Street stations in Montclair on Tuesday afternoon. No one was injury and passengers were safely transferred from the train.
  • Tyga calls for Empire State Building to go gold

    Tyga calls for Empire State Building to go gold

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:37 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:37:52 GMT
    The push to go gold for pediatric cancer has spread to the hip hop world. Popular rapper Tyga is joining those calling for the Empire State Building to light up for a good cause.
    The push to go gold for pediatric cancer has spread to the hip hop world. Popular rapper Tyga is joining those calling for the Empire State Building to light up for a good cause.
  • Christie talks casinos, Springsteen at town hall

    Christie talks casinos, Springsteen at town hall

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:49 PM EDT2014-08-20 01:49:34 GMT
    Gov. Chris Christie of New JerseyGov. Chris Christie of New Jersey
    Gov. Chris Christie talked Atlantic City casinos and defended his use of Bruce Springsteen music in the latest installment of his summer "No Pain, No Gain" town hall series on Tuesday. Many previous events have featured protests by retirees and labor groups as well as Atlantic City casino workers urging Christie to do more to save their jobs following a series of announced closures.
    Gov. Chris Christie talked Atlantic City casinos and defended his use of Bruce Springsteen music in the latest installment of his summer "No Pain, No Gain" town hall series on Tuesday. Many previous events have featured protests by retirees and labor groups as well as Atlantic City casino workers urging Christie to do more to save their jobs following a series of announced closures.
Powered by WorldNow

KTBC FOX 7
119 East 10th Street
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 476-7777
Fax: (512) 495-7001

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices