Skydive Incident -Update #2

On Saturday January 8, 2022 at approximately 3:34:51 pm, I became part of a statistic that I would have rather avoided: the number of skydivers injured while flying perfectly good parachutes.
Within seconds of the impact I began receiving care from an amazingly long line of people – skydivers at the scene, keeping me still, safe, and removing my gear (while entertaining them with my shock-induced antics;) EMS stabilizing me on the ground and beginning to rebuild me in the air aboard a Life Flight; a full trauma team of doctors, nurses and all the various specialist – trauma, orthopedics, neurosurgery, x-ray, CT, ultrasound, respiratory, anesthetics; and then I slept for four days (in a medically induced coma.)
While I slept, a titanium rod was inserted in the marrow space of my left femur, an external steel frame was built around my waist to reinforce my pelvis, and I was placed on a ventilator to help me breathe while I recovered from the trauma and a previously unknown case of COVID.
When I woke up in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit (TICU) on the morning of Wednesday January 12, the list of my care providers continued to grow with less doctors and specialists, and more nurses, patient care advocates, mobile x-ray techs, patient transporters, room cleaners and chaplains. So far I have added another eighty-five names to my prayer list and it is growing every day. Thank you everyone – you are all in my daily prayers.
In the first few days, I could only move my right arm/hand/fingers, right toes, and my head/neck/face. Saturday the 15th, I learned how to use my left arm again when my phone rang and I reached before I remembered my arm didn’t work.
My next surgery on Monday the 17th went well and replaced my external steel pelvic frame with an internal titanium version and resulted in the most painful day of recovery since I’d been here as the blood flow began to increase significantly to my left leg increasing its sense of pain.
Xrays on the 19th confirmed my left foot/ankle/tib/fib and left knee were intact and undamaged even though they were my first point of contact with the ground and also had the most swelling (my ankle was the size of a volleyball.)
A CT scan today, January 23, confirmed my bladder has healed properly from its rupture. Also today, as the swelling has continued to go down, I am now beginning to be able to move the major muscle groups of my left leg.
At this point I expect to stay in my current recovery room for a few more days before being transferred to a three-week intensive inpatient OT/rehabilitation program located here in the same hospital.
I want to thank everyone for their prayers, most especially the prayers to avoid narcotics. Though prescribed a 10 mg Oxycodone every four hours, this week I’ve settled into a good routine of only taking a 5mg Oxycodone at midnight and 4am to sleep, then switching to Tylenol at 8am and for the rest of the day.
More updates to come.


Jackson County commissioner recovering from skydiving injuries, hopes to be home soon


Skydive Incident – Update #1

Greetings of happiness and joy from Polk County, Florida.
It is sometimes difficult to know how to begin an orderly account of things; so firstly, let me thank you for your patience in awaiting this message.
Coming from Jackson, Michigan, I know well the importance of a strong hospital system and I am proud to report I’ve found another exemplary system in Polk County, at Lakeland Regional Health. The care and treatment I’ve received has been beyond all measure, and I ask everyone to join me in my deepest thoughts and prayers for my entire care team here.
Most importantly, I wish to continue to communicate the safety of modern skydiving and make clear a distinction: although I have been severely injured, I was not involved in a skydive ‘accident’ (an undesired outcome of a reasonable course of action,) rather an ‘incident’ (a reasonable outcome to an undesired course of action.) To be clear: my parachute system worked as designed and it flew exactly as I told it to: hard, fast, and straight to the ground. My body impacted the Earth at 78 mph at approximately a 45-degree pitch, 20-degree roll, and 5-degree yaw/sec. I then bounced 67 feet to my second point of impact and then tumbled another 100 feet before stopping. This was the result of my own intentional (and poorly made,) choices.
As a USPA rated AFF Skydive instructor, I believe in the mantra: “make better decisions, sooner”. And though I’ll leave the finer points of this discussion for my own students in person (or for you and your own local instructors,) for now suffice it to say that my first bad choice was not made at 100, 300, 500, or even 1000 feet, rather it began the moment I spotted and exited at 5500 feet. I spent my entire canopy flight trying to achieve an altitude and position that I could not and ultimately, I failed to select a safe alternate landing area by 2000 feet.
My second major mistake was the decision to execute my landing maneuver. As skydivers, we have a series of landing priorities that I ignored. At the moment I executed, I should have instead chosen to fly straight and level (into the RV park ahead,) rather than turn into a clear and open area. This was my failure to keep my ego in check. When we say “Go big or go home”, going home is the right choice. We can go big next time.
As a result of ignoring the tried and true training that every student receives before their first AFF skydive, I broke my pelvis in three places and received a spiral fracture of my left femur, and fractures to three vertebrae, T8, 10, & 12. I spent the first four days after my incident in a medically induced coma and awoke with some major mobility issues. In the last four days, I have experienced amazing recovery, with some functionality returning to all parts of my body. I am looking forward to my next surgery tomorrow to replace my external pelvic fixator with an internal version.
Lastly, in the spirit that every student does something right, I’ll share what I think my saving grace was: I did not stop flying. I flew all the way to the scene of the incident. I did not withdraw, even though I knew I could not win. In my final memory, I knew I was FUBAR and I smiled, continued to even the pressure on my rears, took a breath, and at the moment of impact, I did not resist – I exhaled and gave the best PLF of my life.
Always prepare to PLF.
Thank you for your continued prayers, more updates to come.


Commissioner Jeromy Alexander hurt in skydiving accident