Skydiving is a divisive sport. It has its die-hard junkies and a good group of people who would never gear up and set foot on a plane, much less jump out of one.
The elements of danger characteristic of the sport are what simultaneously draw some and push others away: free-falling through the air at insane speeds and then relying on a scrap of fabric to slow your descent is thrilling to some, terrifying to others.
One 30-year-old woman who went parachuting in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, experienced the darker side of skydiving on Aug. 10 when her parachute did not deploy and she hit a stand of trees.
She was not new to the sport, and it’s unclear what exactly happened that led to the malfunction at Parachutisme Adrénaline, though an investigation is underway.
The director of sports promotion for the U.S. Parachute Association, Nancy Koreen, explained that there are many steps that must be taken in order to ensure proper deployment, especially under tricky circumstances.
Koreen said that true parachute malfunction is “extremely rare” and the term is “pretty vague and not often correct.” The parachute has to be deployed at the correct altitude, and there’s a backup parachute in case the main one malfunctions.
“To say none of the parachutes opened is probably misleading,” she said, according to CBC. “It’s not really the way the parachute works.”
Still, Koreen’s assessment is small comfort to those who witnessed the accident as well as wary prospective parachuters.
Denis Demers was one of the people who stood helplessly by and watched what could have very well been the female skydiver’s last moments on earth.
“It’s a miracle,” Demers said. “I don’t know how a person can survive a fall from an airplane like that.”
Another enthusiast expressed her fear over the scene she witnessed.
“We watched all the way to the end,” Océane Duplessis said. “We kept hoping something would happen. We were very worried. Very.”
While it might be a while before this parachuter hits the skies again, it’s amazing that she survived such a fall with only a few non-life-threatening broken bones.
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