Woman who survived skydive after parachute failed tells of terrifying ordeal

Jordan on another skydiving adventure
Jordan on another skydiving adventure -Credit:Jordan Hatmaker / SWNS

A woman who survived a skydive after her parachute failed to open has told of the terrifying ordeal.

Disaster struck when Jordan Hatmaker was doing a rapid 13,500-foot descent over Suffolk, Virginia on November 14 2021.

The 37-year-old said she had dreamt of getting her skydiving licence, so had gone up for the second and last jump of the day when her parachute failed.

Describing the horror moment, Jordan said: "Everything was fine during freefall, but then I pulled my chute. The pilot chute wrapped around my right leg a few times. I tried desperately to get it off.

"Time slowed down for me but I was falling so fast. I thought I had a lot more time than I did. I was trying to get it off my leg, and then I tried to get my shoe off but I had double knotted my shoelaces because in a previous jump one of my shoes fell off. (The instructor actually caught it in the air.)"

Jordan was hoping to get a sky diving licence
Jordan was hoping to get a sky diving licence -Credit:Courtesy of Jordan Hatmaker

This had been the 16th jump from a plane Jordan had done, reports the Mirror.

She continued: "At 750ft the automatic activation device fired, which is like a reserve parachute which opens when you get to a certain altitude without deploying the main parachute. My reserve parachute came out which jolted enough to make my main parachute come out. But the two canopies were flying next to each other, dragging away from each other and started me spinning into the ground. This was 200ft above the ground. It happened so fast.

"I was completely out of control. I just remember thinking that the ground was coming up really really fast. And I remember thinking: 'This is going to hurt.'"

She hit the ground at around 60mph. Jordan described the moments after she 'landed.'

She said: "I was conscious the whole time. My first thought was that I need to stand up. In skydiving, when you land you're supposed to get up immediately. So people know you're okay, if you lay there everyone's going to come running over. I couldn't move anything below my waist. I started yelling for help. In between yelling I was praying: "God please don't let me be paralysed, please don't let me be paralysed."

Jordan suffered extensive injuries
Jordan suffered extensive injuries -Credit:Jordan Hatmaker / SWNS
Jordan didn't let the injuries hold her back from her adventures
Jordan didn't let the injuries hold her back from her adventures -Credit:Jordan Hatmaker / SWNS

"It felt like I was yelling forever but I don't know how long it was. I'm sure it was only a few minutes but it felt like a really long time. The longer I lay there the worse it got, after the shock wore off it was super intense burning. Through my back. Everything below my waist was burning."

Eventually help arrived and emergency services were called but when they tried to move her, the scale of her injuries became apparent. She recalled: "I have never heard sounds like that come out of my body, or anyone else's. I can't believe I made those sounds. They were blood curdling screams. It was like an out of body experience, it hurt like the worst pain you've ever felt in your life. That's when they knew it was my back."

Eventually a medical helicopter landed nearby and gave her something for the pain. Jordan continued: "They gave me ketamine for the pain. I came in the helicopter and I honestly didn't know if I was dead or alive. I guess that's what ketamine does to you. I asked the paramedics if I was alive, dead or in the third dimension. They said: 'You're in the k-hole sweety.'"

Jordan suffered bad injuries to her back
Jordan suffered bad injuries to her back -Credit:Courtesy of Jordan Hatmaker

Between visiting family and friends, and various medical procedures, those first days in the hospital were busy. She described: "It was a whirlwind at first. I don't remember that much of the first week in the ICU. I was heavily drugged.

"I broke five or six vertebrae in my back but the worst was a spinal chord injury. And I also broke my leg around the ankle so I had two surgeries on my leg."

Despite the damage to her body, Jordan, a self described adrenaline junky, didn't hold back from living her life how she wanted to, including taking part in extreme sports. She's even skydived again since and even climbed Everest a year after the accident.

But she's stopped telling her parents before she embarks on the adventure. She said: "I probably won't tell them about the next extreme adventure. I'll just tell them afterwards. 'Hey look guys I survived so don't worry.'

"It hasn't slowed me down. But I really don't want to break bones again. As I was lying in hospital I was thinking how glad I am that I've lived life to the fullest. What if I had been one of those people who put things off?"

The experience and the many weeks spent in a wheelchair has opened her eyes to how some people live. She said: "It really opened my eyes to a lot of things. It made me far more empathetic to people stuck in a wheelchair. My day to day life was so much more difficult. It also made me realise how much stronger I am than I thought I was."

She doesn't tend to bring up her alarming accident but people who know what she went through, often do. She said: "If I'm with my friends or family, they often bring it up. I was with my aunt the other day and she introduced me by saying: 'This is Jordan, she was in a skydiving accident'".

She added laughing: "There's so much more to me." In her free time she likes to rescue dogs , either by fostering or by volunteering at one of her local shelters, the Norfolk Animal Care Centre.

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