Teen’s miracle survival

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CAPE TOWN — The father of a 17-year-old skydiver who survived a three-kilometre fall with a faulty parachute wishes he would take up a calmer sport, like golf.

Henco van Wyk, a Grade 11 pupil from George, fell 3 500 feet (1 000 m) in a minute when his main parachute failed to deploy last Sunday.

His reserve chute got tangled with the main chute’s cords and failed to break his fall completely.

He suffered several broken bones, a back injury and various scrapes and bruises.

He jumped from 10 000 feet and pulled his parachute cord at 3 500 feet, and then plummeted when the chute failed to open, the whole drama watched by his mother.

Father Henk van Wyk said his wife was “hysterical”. He was away in Mpumalanga when Henco jumped at Skydive Mossel Bay.

Henco landed on his feet, just managing to miss a nearby pile of rocks, and then fell onto his back. He did not lose consciousness.

He was taken to hospital in Mossel Bay and was airlifted to Cape Town on Monday, where a rod was inserted into his back to stabilise it. His father said he can move all his limbs and he will have another operation on Monday to pin his leg.

“After the operation he asked me when he could jump again! I really wish he’d take up golf.”

Mark Bellingan, national safety and training officer with the Parachute Association of SA (Pasa) said all incidents are investigated to determine the cause, whether human or equipment failure.

He said he would study photographs of the scene and speak to Henco.

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