A 16-year-old girl from Texas has survived a fall of more than 3,000ft in a skydiving accident in Oklahoma.
Makenzie Wethington is in good condition, despite multiple injuries, including to her liver, pelvis lumbar spine in her lower back, shoulder blade and several ribs, trauma surgeon Jeffrey Bender said.
“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,” the surgeon from Oklahoma said.
Makenzie is expected to leave the intensive care unit soon, he said.
The teenager’s parents had allowed her to take the jump but father Joe has now said the skydiving company should not have allowed it.
The company involved has defended its decision, saying the father went up with his daughter and was the first to jump.
Robert Swainson, instructor and owner of the company involved, said Makenzie’s parachute had opened as it should have done but she began to spiral downward when the chute went up but not out.
He said skydivers were given instruction during a six-to-seven-hour training session on how to deal with such problems.
The instructor 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,” he said.
Mr Swainson said he did not jump out to help Makenzie because there was no way he could have reached her.
Also, he explained, another jumper had become scared and refused to make the jump so it was protocol for him to remain with the frightened person because instructors do not know what that person will do.
“The most I could have done is screamed,” he said.
Nancy Koreen, director of sport promotion at the US Parachute Association, said its safety requirements allow someone who is 16 to make a dive with parental consent, though some places set the age higher.
Amazing. Makenzie, hang in there. Wishing you as full a recovery as is humanly and medically possible. I hope we can see you up and walking around within a year! Take it slow.
To mark the anniversary on Sunday, the 17-year-old, who is now walking again, returned to Oklahoma to meet and thank the emergency responders who helped save her life.