Fetus Survives Fall!

"Flipped over on diving exit. Good recovery. Good altitude awareness. Good barrell roll, back to stable, good job. Front loop SOLID. Back loop, then stuck on back for five seconds. Good rollover. Wave off and pull at correct altitude."

That was jump 10 in my skydiving logbook, Aug. 17, 2003.

Shayna Richardson -- who has been in the news lately as the pregnant woman who survived death plunge! -- will likely have a very different entry for her 10th jump in her logbook.

I'm sure you all have heard the story about that jump by now, because it's been sensationalized far and wide. And it's all a load of dung.

Over the past two days I've heard normally savvy journalists say the most ridiculous things:

"Both of her parachutes failed!"

"Her chutes didn't open!"

"She hit the ground, face first, in freefall!"

C'mon, people. You're journalists. Use a little common sense. (And stop using the word "chute." Nobody calls it that.)

If any of those things really had happened, this young lady certainly would be dead.

After a few years in the sport, I know now not to expect much accuracy when it comes to the press and skydiving. And that's simply because most journalists don't know anything about skydiving, and it's a really difficult sport to explain to those who haven't tried it.

Plus, it's really fun to make skydiving look edgy! And crazy! And EXTREME! AND DRINK MOUNTAIN DEW!! Boo-yah!

Still, it's hard for me to see story after story portraying this incident as gear failure when that wasn't the case.

The skydiver herself wrote about the accident on skydiving websites and has given more details about the incident.

First off, she was jumping a canopy that wasn't suitable for a student. Also, she had a perfectly good main parachute -- albeit with a common, easily fixable problem -- and she mistakenly cut it away, which she knows now she shouldn't have done. Then she had a problem with her reserve that could have been alleviated with the proper procedures.

Instead, she told Diane Sawyer, she let go of the toggles and told God she was ready for Him to take her home. (Even though skydiving isn't one of those sports where you should, you know, just give up and hope for the best. But that was her choice.)

And the video clips. My God, those horrible video clips. The news has started to look more like those stupid "Most Extreme Videos" shows, since footage from the incident has been chopped to bits and used improperly.

For example, on "Good Morning America," Diane Sawyer discussed the "failure" of the main parachute. To illustrate this, they showed a clip of the skydiver reaching to deploy -- and nothing coming out.

The problem is that they used a clip of the skydiver doing her practice ripcord touch. This is standard for student jumps, because it helps them get a feel for the handle before the actual deployment. It's PRACTICE. Nothing is supposed to come out.

I love skydiving with every fiber of my being, and I'm very upset to see the sport getting all this attention in such a negative, erroneous fashion. I'm angry that this whole thing makes skydiving look unneccessarily dangerous and bad.

Most of all, I'm upset that reputable news outlets are taking the word of a new, inexperienced skydiver at face value, rather than interviewing skydiving professionals about what went wrong. Journalists have an obligation to show the truth, and in this situation, they're not doing so. This woman really shouldn't be the spokesperson for skydiving.

I certainly didn't know much about the sport at 10 jumps. Check my logbook entry -- in freefall I was stuck like a turtle on my back for a good five seconds before I figured out how to flip over. (Heck, 300 jumps later, I still have worlds of things to learn about the sport.)

Had something malfunctioned on my 10th jump, I'm not sure how I would have reacted. And I'm not sure what I would have said to Diane Sawyer about the whole thing.

It's sad that Shayna Richardson is in that position, because she really doesn't know enough to speak authoritatively about the sport, the gear, the problems.

Anyway, my best goes out to this woman and her child. I hope both come out of this incident happy and healthy.
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By Blogger Emily, at 6:13 PM  

As an aspiring journalist, I loved your post. That's ridiculous that they didn't talk to a pro. A lot of journalists are fearful of blogging and people thinking they are journalists. Posts like these are "watchdogging" us.    

By Blogger Misty, at 6:01 PM  

Amen, sister!!! You said it just right! The last few days I have said the same thing to co-workers who said "hey did you hear..."


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