- Teen got tangled in his wires
- He plummeted to the ground at 50mph
- Expert said he was 'amazed' he survived
By Steven Henry
Last updated at 7:58 AM on 21st February 2012
Lucky to be alive: The teenager (not pictured) plummeted to the ground at more than 50mph
A teenager slammed into the ground from a height of more than 3,500ft when he became tangled in lines during a parachute jump.
The 18-year-old is believed to have tumbled uncontrollably during the terrifying ordeal after his backpack snared on the door of the aircraft.
He became caught in the wires of the main chute as it deployed. This prevented his reserve chute from opening and left him to plummet to the ground at more than 50mph.
Incredibly, the young man escaped unscathed and is thought to have been discharged from hospital yesterday.
Last night, as investigators began an investigation into the accident, one expert admitted he was ‘amazed’ the victim was still alive.
John Hitchen, safety officer for the British Parachute Association (BPA), said: ‘It was an incredible survival.’
The teenager was airlifted to hospital after the accident at Strathallan Airfield, near Auchterarder, Perthshire, shortly after 11am on Sunday.
He was travelling in a Cessna 206 aircraft with up to four other parachutists and a jump master when the drama unfolded.
Mr Hitchen said the teenager, who was taking part in his fourth jump, was on a static line.
A static line is connected to the participant’s pilot chute and the aircraft and means the parachute is automatically deployed without the jumper pulling a cord.
The line then snaps off, leaving the jumper to drift to earth. However, it is thought the adventure sports fan snared his backpack on the Cessna as he exited, throwing him into a deadly spin.
Mr Hitchen said: ‘He may have caught his pack in the door as he left, which is not a clean exit.
Inquiry: The British Parachute Association is investigating the accident, which happened at Strathallan Airfield (pictured)
‘That would have made him unstable and he would have tumbled as the parachute was deploying.
‘He would have been very much disorientated. His reserve was prevented from opening fully – we are amazed he survived.’
It is estimated the teenager would have been travelling at about ‘50mph or above’ at one point before hitting the ground from between 3,500ft and 4,000ft.
A Scottish Ambulance Service helicopter was sent to the scene and the jumper was taken to Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital suffering from suspected back, leg and neck injuries.
'Quite jovial and quite upbeat about it all'
He was conscious when the helicopter arrived and, despite initial reports suggesting he had been released from hospital that day, it is thought he was discharged yesterday having been barely injured.
Mr Hitchen said the BPA would carry out an investigation into the accident. They will question witnesses and examine training, equipment and conditions on the day.
The BPA has the power to shut down parachute schools but Mr Hitchen said it had ‘no real concerns’ and was happy the teenager had done everything he had been trained to do.
Kieran Brady, chairman of Skydive Strathallan, said he had spoken to the teenager’s father and said he was ‘quite jovial and quite upbeat about it all’.
Meanwhile, the BPA is investigating another parachuting accident that took place at Errol Airfield, also Perthshire, an hour after the Strathallan incident.
A 28-year-old woman suffered a broken bone in her foot when she hit a metal step as she left the aircraft. Initial reports suggested her parachute had failed to open but that is not the case.
A man who answered the phone at Paragon Skydiving Club, based at the airfield, said the parachutist had sprained her ankle.
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