80-Year-Old Skydiver Laughs About Terrifying Fall
ABC's Suzan Clarke and Marisa Taylor report:
To mark her 80th birthday, Laverne Everett went skydiving, but the tandem jump went horribly wrong and video of the terrifying experience has gone viral.
Now, Everett is talking about the frightening experience shown on her keepsake video, where she appears to have been pushed out of the aircraft after seemingly being reluctant, and then completely slips out of her upper harness.
In the video, which was shot during the dive last year, Everett is shown clinging to her instructor for dear life while they plunge to earth from 13,000 feet, traveling at 125 miles per hour. Her experience is only now creating waves because her sister recently posted it online as a way to share the experience with out-of-state family members.
"I just held on," Everett said, laughing, in a Friday interview with KOVR TV in Sacramento, Calif., in which she described plunging to the earth while nearly falling out of her harness.
She and her jump partner managed to land safely. She seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing when she describes the incident to KOVR.
Referring to the moment when her instructor is forcing her out the door despite what appear to be her having second thoughts, the Oakdale, Calif., woman said that's not really what happened. She said her bad knee gave out as she was at the door.
"He had to give me a little nudge," Everett, now 81, said. "He knew how bad I wanted to jump."
She said it's a blessing that her shirt blew up over her head, because it blocked her view of her precarious descent.
"I had just one little peephole of light shining through. I didn't get to see anything," she said.
Everett jumped with The Parachute Center, a skydiving company in Acampo, Calif.
Skydiving fatalities are on the decline these days, with some 21 deaths out of 3 million jumpers in 2010, a 0.007 chance of death, according to the United States Parachute Association.
Nancy Koreen, a spokeswoman for the association, said they were aware of the incident before the video was posted. It looked as if Laverne's harness wasn't adjusted properly, and that she wasn't positioned properly before the jump, she said.
"But that's not at all a common occurrence," she said. "It's extremely, extremely rare."
In a statement to ABCNews.com, company owner Bill Dause wrote: "This happened a long time ago and everything worked as advertised. No one got hurt or injured."
Everett celebrated her 81st birthday at home, but she's already planning her next stunt.
"I never have ridden in a race car," she said.
ABC News has learned the Federal Aviation Administration sent a safety inspector Friday to investigate the company. In just the last two years, the company has racked up nearly $1 million in FAA penalties for apparently failing to properly maintain aircraft.