Narrow escape after novice skydiver lands in power lines

2010-02-23 00:00

A STUDENT skydiver is lucky to be alive after her parachute became entangled in power lines after a freefall jump at Angels’ Way Skydiving Club near Eston on Sunday.

This is the second accident at the club in two weeks.

The 27-year-old from Bisley asked not to be identified. She is recovering in hospital after she sustained second-degree electrical burns to her leg, back and arm as well as multiple abrasions.

Hymne Cajeux (34) of Durban died on January 31 when she reportedly activated her parachute too low for it to open properly, resulting in a high-speed impact with the ground.

The injured woman’s instructor, Vernon Kloppers, said her parachute wrapped around the power lines and “we suspect that it created contact between two lines and that’s what shocked her. The fact that she remained suspended saved her life. If she had touched the earth and ‘grounded’ the current, she would not have survived.”

She was trapped hanging from her parachute for about 45 minutes before Eskom switched off the power and the Fire, Rescue and Disaster Management services could cut her down. She was treated and stabilised by Netcare911 paramedics before being taken to hospital.

The woman is a student at the skydiving club and it was her first solo jump — she had already done two tandem jumps.

“She was being guided down by someone, but because she was inexperienced she made an error of judgment and missed the landing area by about 500 metres,” said Kloppers.

“She disappeared from sight into the valley and when we went by truck to fetch her we found her hanging from the lines. She was very shocked and in a lot of pain.”

Kloppers said the club did not plan to move the landing area as “this has never happened before” and the area meets safety requirements.

The power lines are about 500 m away from the edge of the landing area.

“We stress to students that there is an inherent risk in skydiving. On the farm there are also other obstacles like buildings, dams and fences. The club had an accident-free record for 18 years and now we’ve had two in two weeks.”

 

CONTROVERSIAL businessman Rob Taylor owns Angels’ Way.

In November Mkambathini Municipality’s town planner ordered him to halt development on the site following a site inspection attended by representatives of the provincial department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Afzelia Environmental Consulting and Taylor’s representative.

Taylor was found to have developed the skydiving venue without environmental authorisation. He is also the developer of Amber Valley in Howick. He made newspaper headlines recently when he reportedly gave a luxury Audi to a group of car guards in Cape Town. In 2006, he was fined R15 000 for driving his Lambhorgini at 207 km/h.

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