She Survived 3.5K-Foot Fall, Just Won $760K Over It

Texas teen Makenzie Wethington says parachute malfunctioned
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2017 2:45 AM CDT
Updated Apr 18, 2017 6:11 AM CDT
Makenzie Wethington speaks during a news conference at Baylor University Medical Center Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Dallas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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(Newser) – A Texas girl whose 16th birthday present almost killed her has been awarded $760,000—more than $200 for each of the approximately 3,500 feet she plunged after her parachute malfunctioned. Makenzie Wethington, now 19, suffered internal injuries as well as a broken pelvis, lumbar spine, and shoulder blade in the Jan. 25, 2014, skydive in Oklahoma, reports the Dallas Morning News. After a negligence lawsuit, a judge ordered Robert Swainson, owner of the now-closed Pegasus Air Sports business, to pay Wethington $400,000 for physical suffering, $350,000 for mental suffering, and $10,000 for future medical expenses.

Wethington, whose lawsuit alleged that she wasn't given proper training and that she was given the wrong parachute for her skill level, told the judge that after she jumped from the plane, her lines became tangled and she blacked out as she spun out of control, the Oklahoman reports. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed. Swainson, who now lives in the UK, argued that she "injured herself" by panicking "when things did not go exactly as expected." After the accident, the US Parachuting Association raised the minimum age to 18, a limit that was already in place in most states. (These skydivers had to jump early to escape a plane crash.)

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