Frightening footage was caught on camera as two skydivers came crashing into each other, mid-air, in a jump that went horribly wrong. Both divers were seriously injured with one of them partially paralyzed following the incident.
The incident happened 14,000-feet above the city of Zephyrhills, Florida, on Tuesday, March 22. Video footage caught on diver Sebastian Leal’s GoPro camera, that was attached to his jumpsuit, shows him plummeting from the sky soon after the collision. The footage goes on to describe chilling last moments of the descent before it finally hit the ground.
Sebastian Leal, a skydiver from Mexico and an otherwise accomplished diver with over 400 jumps under his belt, apparently has only a faint recollection of the paralyzing accident, but is hopeful he will make a recovery soon. Leal is unable to feel his legs. He reportedly fractured four vertebrae upon impact against the power lines on the way down.
“I remember leaving the aeroplane, and then approximately five seconds later, we collided. I hit some power lines before I hit the ground. My next memory is lying on the ground in pain. What happened to me is very unlikely. It’s a freak accident. I am optimistic that one day I will fly wingsuit again. I am very thankful to the person who reacted as quickly as they did and called the police. They saved my life. There are other skydivers who have been handicapped and who have been able to get back on their wing suits, which is inspiring to me. And I hope that I serve as an inspiration for others as well.”
Experts reckon that skydiving and parachuting are nowhere near as dangerous as most people consider them to be. However, they understand the occasional risks associated with the famed sport. Most of them deem modern parachuting gear to be highly reliable, owing to the many advances made in the sport over decades, helping make skydiving as equally safe as it is thrilling.
Statistics also reveal that the more serious skydiving related injuries or fatalities have not been attributed as much to equipment failure as have been to inadvertent “diver-error,” or when sometimes-radically dangerous maneuvers are attempted by skydivers. This only goes to highlight the safety element of a properly maintained, packed, and deployed parachute.
However, a mid-air collision event could happen anywhere and can sound astoundingly frightening. In Florida last year, 33-year-old professional skydiver Jessica Edgeington, with over 6,000 jumps to her name, lost her life to a tragic incident after her parachute collided in mid-air with another. Jessica had regularly participated in a highly exciting sporting competition called swooping, where divers are required to speed down to land in a series of planned maneuvers while confronting some seriously arduous obstacles along the way.
According to an independent Skydiving Fatalities Database that provides an official record of skydiving related accidents since 2004, only one of the last five fatal skydiving accidents has been attributed to a mid-air collision. The other four incidents were either landing-related or had to do with equipment malfunction. Barring one, all other incidents happened in the United States.
Most sky-diving experts agree that altitude awareness, as opposed to than anything else, is incontestably the most important aspect of skydiving. Like most things technical, major advances have been made in the area of audible alert systems in recent times, and these devices provide valuable data for professional skydivers and is an indispensable addition to any modern-day skydiver’s tool kit.
Meanwhile, injured Sebastian Leal is confident and says he intends to continue pursuing his passion for skydiving despite the unfortunate mid-air incident that has left him badly scarred and paralyzed from the waist down.
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