Okla. skydive accident survivor to leave hospital

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A 16-year-old Texas girl who survived a fall of more than 3,000 feet in a skydiving accident last weekend will be discharged from an Oklahoma City hospital on Friday, a hospital spokesman said.

Makenzie Wethington was flown to the OU Medical Center on Saturday after the accident at a skydiving school in Chickasha. She will be transferred to a Dallas-area rehabilitation facility, OU Medical Center spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said.

Wethington's parents agreed to allow her to skydive as a 16th birthday present, and her father jumped ahead of her. When the teen, from Joshua, Texas, jumped, her canopy opened but with a malfunction that she was unable to correct, and she did not deploy a reserve parachute as she had been taught to do. Her father, Joe Wethington, has said she told him she blacked out as she plummeted to the ground. She landed on grass.

The impact of Wethington's dramatic fall damaged her liver and broke her pelvis, lumbar spine in her lower back, a shoulder blade, several ribs and a tooth.

Doctors said it would be weeks before she could bear any weight, but described the speed of her recovery as remarkable. She has not yet had any surgery to correct her myriad injuries.

"Our trauma physician who saw her expected her not to make it when he first saw her," Coppenbarger said. "The family thinks this is a miracle. It's remarkable that this happened on a Saturday and she's getting discharged today."

Joe Wethington has said the skydiving company erred in allowing someone so young to jump, even though he signed the company's waiver. The company's owner said the teenager was taught how to correct the malfunction she experienced during a 6-hour training session that she attended with her father before they made their skydives.

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