On the eve of the US Parachute Association’s Skydiving Safety Day, a plane and a skydiver collided in mid-air at an airfield in Mulberry, Polk County, Florida. Miraculously, both the people involved in the mishap survived with minor injuries. The incident happened a few meters above the runway of South Lakeland Airport off Coronet Road near Mulberry.
The people involved in the accident were 87-year-old pilot Sharon Trembley and John Frost, a 49-year-old skydiver from Gainesville. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the incident happened when Mr. Trembley, a veteran pilot flying since 1946 attempted landing the small single-engine Cessna at the airport. At the same time, Mr. Frost was trying to land his parachute as well. Around 75 feet in the air, the skydiver drew too close to the aircraft after which the wings of the plane got entangled with the lines of Frost’s parachute. Within seconds, the plane nosedived to the ground and crashed. Frost on the other hand was first flipped in the air and then flung to the ground. According to eyewitnesses, the incident happened when Trembley was doing the landing maneuver for the third and final time. They also said that the pilot tried to steer the Cessna away from the skydiver, but the collision happened very quickly, within seconds.
Photographer Captures Stunning Images of Plane Colliding With Skydiver
This photo released by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office shows a plane nose-diving into the ground after getting tangled with a parachutist, left, Saturday March 8, 2014, at the South Lakeland Airport in Mulberry, Fla. Both the pilot and jumper hospitalized with minor injuries.
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The plane approaching the skydiver
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Both get entangled
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The skydiver is flung away
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The skydiver still in the air
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The plane hits solid ground
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The skydiver is still in the air
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The skydiver finally lands
Both Frost and Trembley received immediate medical care and were transported to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center by ambulance where the skydiver was treated for minor injuries and released hours later. It was later revealed that Frost had received five stitches to his chin. The older Mr. Trembley had injured his trachea and had difficulty speaking, according to his wife Dorothy Trembley. He would be kept under observation overnight at the hospital.
Eyewitnesses of the event also included photographer Tim Telford who was witnessing it all unfold. His camera has managed to capture some amazing visuals of the collision and the subsequent hard landing. When interviewed by local television channel WTSP, Trembley was overheard saying, “Never in a million years did I think I’d see what I saw.”
He went on to say that what he saw was nothing short of a miracle. “The plane caught the side of the canopy, flipped the plane 180 degrees and flipped the skydiver into the air. You heard the airplane hit the parachute, which sounded like you falling on your face into your pillow; a ‘woof’ sound.”
A relieved Dorothy Trembley was happy to learn that the skydiver was safe after hitting the plane. “We’re feeling great that he’s OK. The diver is OK. That’s fine with us.”
[Photo Credit: Tim Telford/AP]