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Tales From the Bonfire | I Was Already Dead

By Rick Thues

Tales from the Bonfire | August 2020
Saturday, August 1, 2020

This story originally appeared in the book “Skydivers’ Stories: No S**t, There I Was, Thought I Was Gonna Die,” compiled by Tim Long and available at Amazon.com and other booksellers.

 

I was in a 2-way with my good friend (in freefall, OK?). She had only 100 jumps, and I had more than 2,000. The skydive was a follow-the-leader jump, where I would do a freefall maneuver and then she would follow with the same maneuver.

Right out of the plane, we faced off and I did a backloop. When I came out of the backloop, she had disappeared. Then I felt her crashing down on my back. She had been unable to stop her backloop, and I had drifted underneath her. Her knee hit my spine, causing a spinal contusion. I was at 10,000 feet and unable to move my arms or legs. I was completely conscious. From then until 3,000 feet, I tried to move my arms to pull my reserve handle.

I could not move.

I said to myself: “I am glad I have a CYPRES.” My next thought was: “Did I turn it on this morning?”

I could not remember if I had or not. Realizing that I was at the mercy of my AAD or that I was already dead, a strange calm came over me. Just then a flat spin began to develop. Soon I was seeing ground, sky, ground, sky. At 700 feet, a white flash went past me, and I was suddenly under my reserve. There were line twists from the steering toggles to the canopy. I tried kicking out the twists, but my legs did not work. I tried reaching for the steering toggles, but my arms did not work. The reserve was a 210 square foot PISA Tempo and it flew straight, even with line twists.


Rick Thues today.

A telephone line flashed by and my canopy snagged on the line. This stopped my forward motion for a couple of seconds. Then the parachute slipped off the line, dropping me into a planter between a spiked fence and an asphalt road. I landed flat on my back on my still-packed main. The fall must have pushed my spine back into shape because I could wiggle my toes and move my fingers.

I stood up. A man in a truck came speeding up to where I was and said, “I never saw anyone open that low in my life.”

“Neither have I,” I answered.

“What can I do for you?” asked the man.

I said that I could use a ride back to the drop zone and climbed into the back of his truck. Back at the DZ, my freefall companion was sure that I had gone in and that she was responsible. We ran into each other’s arms in happiness and relief.

No s**t. There I was. You can’t make up this kind of story.

Rick Thues | D-14188
Aguanga, California

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