JOSHUA (CBSDFW.COM) — The Federal Aviation Administration has cleared the skydiving company in an accident that nearly killed a 16-year-old Joshua resident in January.
In a minimal report, the FAA found the parachute that 16-year old Mackenzie Wethington used was in good condition and properly packed. The report found no reason to blame the company out of Chickasha, Oklahoma.
The report says that Wethington panicked when her chute became entangled in her first-ever jump, a solo jump.
As she spiraled to the ground at a high rate of speed, she then failed to follow the emergency instructions that were provided by a radio operator, according to the report.
Mackenzie recalled the accident in February, saying that after the complication occurred, she “just remember screaming, and then I blacked out.”
“All I can go on is what they say,” said Holly Wethington, the girl’s mother. “If there was no malfunction, and it was all operator, then it’s just something that could happen to anybody.”
Mackenzie, who just completed her sophomore year at Joshua High School, is still recovering from the fall that left her with several broken bones, a brain injury and internal bleeding.
After the accident, the U.S. Parachute Association made the choice to increase the minimum age for first-time skydivers nationwide to 18 years. Mackenzie was able to jump with parental consent.
The USPA says the change, which went into effect on May 1, was not in response to the incident.
But Mackenzie’s mother recognizes that her daughter never should have been allowed to make the jump — and she’s not blaming the company.
“I thought, ‘Oh yeah, they jump; they flot down all nice and land softly on the ground.’ I hadn’t done any research on it at all,” she said. “After it’s happened, and I see all of the broken bones people get and everything like that — I wouldn’t have ever let her go. Period.”
The owner of the Pegasus Air Sport Center declined comment on the report.
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