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Woman Awarded $760,000 From Skydiving Accident

Was Badly Injured Skydiving At Age 16 When Parachute Malfunctioned 

A woman who was badly injured in a skydiving accident in 2014 has been awarded $760,000 by a court for injuries she sustained during the accident.

Texas resident Mackenzie Wethington suffered injuries to her liver and a kidney, brain bleeding, a broken pelvis, lumbar spine in her lower back, shoulder blade, several ribs and at broke at least one tooth when she fell more than 3,000 feet after the parachute reportedly failed. She was 16 years old when the accident occurred in Chickasha, OK.

According to a report from television station WTXS, Robert Swainson, the owner of Pegasus Air Sports in Chickasha, which has since closed, said he believes that Wethington panicked and did not follow instructions.  The lawsuit claimed that she was not properly trained, and the parachute she was using was not appropriate for her skill level.

In a report shortly after the accident occurred, Oklahoma University Medical Center trauma surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Bender told television station KTVT that he had no idea how Wethington survived the fall. 

The jump was a static-line jump, in which the parachute deploys automatically after exiting the airplane. The parachute reportedly deployed as intended, but then did not fully open correctly. Swainson said at the time that skydivers receive training to handle such malfunctions, and Wethington had a radio receiver in her helmet over which she received instructions about how to deal with the issue, but Swainson said she did not take the proper corrective action.

Mackenzie had permission to make the jump from her parents, as is required by the USPA. Her father Joe Wethington accompanied Mackenzie on the jump, and Swainson said he was the first to exit the airplane. Joe Wethington later said that he did not believe that the company should have allowed his daughter to make the jump.

FMI: www.uspa.org

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