Skydiving Accident Teen’s ‘Incredible’ First Steps

By ABC News

Feb 4, 2014 10:12am

The Texas teenager who suffered life-threatening injuries when she fell 3,500 feet to the ground on a skydiving trip with her dad has taken her first steps in a recovery her doctor calls “incredible.”

Mackenzie Wethington, 16, took her first steps Monday in her home state of Texas after spending the past week at an Oklahoma City hospital, where she had traveled because, in Oklahoma, 16-year-olds are allowed to skydive with parental consent.

Wethington’s father, Joe, took his daughter to Pegasus Air Sport in Chickasha, Okla., Jan. 25 to fulfill her dream of skydiving as a 16th birthday present.

Dad Speaks Out After Teen Parachute Malfunction

While her father landed safely, Mackenzie’s parachute failed to open and she spun down to the ground, 3,500 feet below. The crash broke Mackenzie’s vertebrae, shattered her pelvis and led to internal bleeding.

Over the weekend, Mackenzie was transferred to Dallas’s Baylor Institute of Rehabilitation, closer to the family’s home in Joshua, Texas, where she will continue her rehabilitation with three hours of therapy per day.

It was at Baylor where Mackenzie took her first steps since the accident.

Teenage Girl Survives Skydive After Parachute Malfunction

“They didn’t expect her to come out of that at all and now she’s walking across the room,” Joe Wethington said at a press conference Monday.

“The injuries she’s had and the way that she’s recovered, I still think it’s incredible,” said Dr. Seema Sikka, a rehabilitation specialist at Baylor who is overseeing Mackenzie’s care.

The Wethington family reportedly hired an attorney after the accident to help them investigate what caused the crash.  The owner of Pegasus Air Sport, Bob Swainson, told  ABC affiliate WFAA at the time that Mackenzie’s parachute malfunctioned and they didn’t then know the cause.

Mackenzie, according to her parents and caregivers, reportedly does not remember anything about the accident.

Mackenzie’s mother, Holly Wethington, said on Monday that she is just happy her daughter is alive.

“My concern is not about what happened that day, it’s about that she’s alive and there’s a reason for it,” Wethington said.  “My daughter is still here and I get to see her every day.”

“I don’t care if she ever remembers,” she said.  “I’m just glad that she’s here and that she’s walking and she’s alive.”

Baylor officials announced they are providing Mackenzie’s rehabilitation, expected to last weeks, as charity care because the Wethingtons do not have health insurance.

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