Skydiving is, by most reports, an exhilarating experience. Certainly President George H.W. Bush thought so, having skydived for both his 80th and 90th birthdays.
This is not to say it is without its risks. Some, such as the parachute failing to properly deploy, are obvious; others are less so. One rarely-considered risk is the problem associated with intentionally rapid landings. Having successfully performed standard dives, some people increase the risk factor by doing things like intentionally deploying the chute late or performing comparatively low-altitude jumps. These can result in damaging impacts if the maneuvers aren’t performed perfectly.
One such incident cost Dion Calloway of Santa Rosa, California, his leg. Coming in too fast, his heel shattered upon striking the ground. Surgeries to save the foot failed, resulting in an amputation of his left leg. He wasn’t about to let a small thing like limb loss interfere with his passion, however. Less than two years later, he was back in the sky.
…Where he again lost his leg. This time, truly lost; on April 21, the prosthetic leg came loose about 1/3 of the way through a 15,000 foot jump, and the skydiver had no choice but to watch as it sailed through the air, separating ever further by the air currents. Without a parachute, however, the prosthetic leg was certain to suffer irreparable damage upon reaching the ground. The hope was that no person or property would be directly underneath the plummeting limb.
Calloway reached the ground safely, although he was necessarily hobbling a bit afterward. The group with whom he skydived conducted a search, in case the leg had fallen close to the landing spot, but eventually they accepted the bad news. Dion went home and reluctantly reconciled himself to the effort of getting a new $15K prosthetic.
On Monday morning, he discovered just how forgiving sawdust can be. A worker at a lumber yard had discovered what he at first thought was yet another empty can thrown over the large fence and into the yard. The object was, in fact, Dion’s missing leg, resting atop a large mound of sawdust. The minute shavings of wood had dissipated the energy from the fall enough to keep the prosthetic leg completely intact.
The police were called, and they were able to quickly reunite Dion with Dion’s left leg. He intends to keep jumping… but has already designed a tether for the leg, so it doesn’t go flying off on its own again.
Question for the night: What’s something interesting you’ve found?