Her 16th skydiving birthday present almost killed her when she plunged to certain death after her parachute lines got tangles and failed to deploy properly. Now, 19-year-old Makenzie Whetington has been awarded $760,000 — more than $200 for each of the approximate 3,500 feet. Whetington suffered internal injuries as well as a broken pelvis, lumbar spine, and shoulder blade in the Oklahoma skydive in early 2014, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Following a negligence lawsuit, a judge ordered owner of the Pegasus Air Sports business Robert Swainson to pay Whetington $400k for physical suffering, $350k for mental suffering, and $10k for future medical expenses. Pegasus Air Sports has closed permanently since the incident.
According to the lawsuit claims, Whetington was not only given inadequate training for the jump, but was given an inapt parachute for her low skill level. She told the judge that after jumping from the plane, her parachute lines got tangled and she span out of control, blacking out unconscious during the decline, the Oklahoman reports. The next thing Whetington recalls afterwards is waking up in a hospital bed. Swainson, who now lives in the UK, argued that she injured herself by panicking “when things did not go exactly as expected.”
Following the accident, the US Parachuting Association raised the minimum age to 18, a limit that was already in place in most states.