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Teen recovers after 3,500-foot skydiving fall

The parachute failed during a jump on her birthday


A 16-year-old Texas girl is doing well after the skydiving accident on Saturday.

A spokesperson at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City says Makenzie Wethington will be released Friday and taken to a rehabilitation facility in the Dallas-area.

Makenzie’s sister says,”Makenzie stood for the first time today! Of course she was in unbearable pain, but it is the first step!”

Dr. Jeffrey Bender, a trauma surgeon at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City who treated Makenzie when she was flown Saturday from a skydiving school in Chickasha, said the girl hurt her liver and broke her pelvis, lumbar spine in her lower back, a shoulder blade and several ribs. She also has a broken tooth.

"I don't know the particulars of the accident as I wasn't there. But, if she truly fell 3,000 feet, I have no idea how she survived.”

The girl's parents agreed to let her perform the jump, but her father, Joe Wethington, now says the skydiving company shouldn't have allowed it.

Joe Wethington says, "I don't think she should have been allowed at 16 to go up there and perform that type of jump, no matter what I say or she says, she shouldn't have been allowed. I find it very hard to believe that the rules and regulations in Oklahoma are that lax.”

Robert Swainson, the owner and chief instructor at Pegasus Air Sports Center in Chickasha, defends the company. He noted that the father went up with his daughter and was the first to jump.

Swainson says there are several reasons a parachute can malfunction, but Wethington and other divers were given a six-to-seven-hour training session beforehand on how to deal with such problems.

The U.S. Parachute Association is investigating the accident.



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