Texas Teen Skydiver Who Fell 3,000 Feet and Survived Wins Lawsuit Three Years Later
Three years ago, a Texas teenager from Joshua experienced something no one should ever have to experience. At age 16 Makenzie Wehtington (now 19) jumped out of a plane 3,000 feet in the air and hit the ground due to a parachute malfunction in Oklahoma, according to Dallas News. Her survival was nothing short of a miracle. Today, she was finally awarded a sum of $760,000 in a lawsuit.
Dr. Jeffrey Bender, a trauma surgeon who treated her on the weekend of the incident told the Associated Press, "If she truly fell 3,000 feet, I have no idea how she survived."
The Dallas-Star Telegram reported that her injuries from the fall included her liver as well as broken bones (pelvis, lumbar spine, a shoulder blade and several ribs).She was able to return to school two months later the article stated.
There has been much work in regard to getting Wethington her settlement worked out, but a long wait is expected before she sees that money. The owner of the now-closed Pegasus Air Sports Arena, Robert Swainson, had argued that the she had taken the 6-7 hour safety course and that the party had assumed risk after signing a release waiver (Telegram).
However, the lawsuit alleged that her and the other divers only received four hours of training and that Swainson was 'negligent by allowing her to use equipment that was 'inappropriate for her skill level'." You can find more on both sides of the argument in a well-written article from The Dallas Morning News.
In the end, Swainson did not appear in court and currently resides in the UK, according to court records fished out by the Telegram. Wethington's attorney says he will file a claim to collect, but the process will be difficult. He told the Associated Press:
It’s just a delay game for (Swainson). I think it’ll be very difficult to collect at the end of the day.
On a positive note, Makenzie is currently enrolled in Sam Houston State University with a focus on pre-med. She still deals with headache issues and infections from time to time.
In a previous AP story, Joe - her father - said he believes he shouldn't have allowed her to jump out of that plane. In fact, the minimum age to parachute in the U.S. is now age 18, a change that was implemented after the incident.