Teen Survives 3,500-Foot Fall

Mackenzie Wethington recovering after skydiving accident
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2014 8:32 AM CST

(Newser) – An absolutely amazing story out of Oklahoma, where a Texas 16-year-old survived a 3,500-foot fall in a skydiving mishap—and didn't even require any surgery for her injuries. Mackenzie Wethington, who went skydiving Saturday as a birthday present from her parents, slammed into the ground, yet somehow only suffered a lacerated liver and kidney, broken bones, and a broken tooth; she's already communicating with her parents in writing and doctors say she's in good condition and should suffer few long-term effects. "I have no idea how she survived," one tells Today. Experts are calling it a miracle; one suspects the teen somehow decreased her air speed and thus landed somewhat more softly—in other words, she was incredibly lucky. The teen was supposed to do a tandem jump with an experienced skydiver, but was told when she arrived that Pegasus Air Sports Center wasn't doing tandem jumps, so her first jump after six hours of training was on her own—and went horribly awry.

It's not clear exactly what happened: According to MyFox DFW, the family says Mackenzie's primary parachute didn't open properly (it was supposed to open automatically) and may have gotten tangled, and Mackenzie couldn't open the emergency chute. Mackenzie's dad (who says the main chute only half-opened, according to CNN) blames Pegasus Air Sports Center, claiming it offered inadequate training and didn't properly maintain its equipment. The owner of Pegasus, however, blames Mackenzie and denies any problem with her equipment: "She didn't do what she was supposed to do," he says, though it's not clear what she did wrong; the owner says she didn't take a "corrective counter action" to make her parachute "stop turning." He claims the chute did open fully but somehow, "maybe ... initiated by her," started a rotation that caused the problem. The family has hired a lawyer, Fox News Insider reports. (Read more sky diving stories.)

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