A skydiver smashed into the ground at 125mph after falling 13,500ft – and miraculously survived.
Jordan Hatmaker began hurtling towards the ground in a terrifying spin after her parachute got tangled around her leg.
She had released her reserve parachute but it catapulted both out in opposite directions.
The adrenaline junkie smashed into the ground 20 seconds after pulling her release cord, breaking her back, leg and ankle.
She astonishingly remained conscious throughout the whole ordeal and screamed out for help, terrified she was paralysed.
The 35-year-old said: “Everything happened really quickly. I didn’t have any thoughts because I was spiraling so I didn’t know what was going on, I was just in strategy mode.”
Jordan hit the earth on her left leg and bounced forward to land on her back. She was taken to hospital where she spent 25 days recovering from the horrific fall.
It would take her three months to walk again, but the near-death experience has not put her off from skydiving again.
Jordan said: “I don’t think that you should give up things that you love just because an obstacle was put in your way, life is too short and you should do what makes you happy.
“I really hope to send a message of trying to find the silver lining in whatever situation you’re in.
“You never know how strong you are until you have to be, don’t underestimate yourself.”
Jordan fell in love with skydiving after completing her first jump in 2015. Between that year and 2020 she completed a total of five tandem jumps before she decided to train for her skydiving licence so she could jump solo.
It was during this training on November 2021 that disaster struck. She tried to get in two jumps so that she was well on her way to getting her license before the winter made practicing more difficult.
After about 10 seconds of freefall she moved away from her coach and pulled the cord to release her parachute, but the pilot chute – the initial smaller one that comes out before the main canopy– was wrapped around her leg.
Her leg was suspended in the air as she fell at 125mph with nothing to slow her down, and she scrambled to try and free herself, but as she did her reserve chute was automatically released.
The parachutes hurtled her even quicker to the ground, and it is known in skydiving that landing a downplane will usually result in severe injuries or death.
Jordan, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, said: “First I tried to push myself off the ground, and when I couldn’t move anything my first thought was I was paralysed and I was yelling that out.
“I’ve never heard sounds like those come out of my body. I screamed bloodcurdling screams.”
She said: “They [doctors] said we don’t know what kind of mobility she’s going to have, but they didn’t think I was going to be paralysed because I could wiggle my toes.”
During her recovery, she would yell at her legs to move, but despite her frustrations always believed that she would one day walk again, even though her chances were slim.
She said: “I was very thankful to be alive, that was the thought I had most often. I had a lot of hope that I would walk again, even though I couldn’t lift my legs or move them back and forth.
“I had a lot of hope that I would do everything I wanted to do again.”
She said: “That moment I could only lift it maybe half an inch off the bed but it was just so great to conquer a milestone. It was a sign of progress and I was really thrilled and excited, it just gave me more motivation to keep going.
“I started walking three months to the day of the accident.”
She still suffers from other aspects of the spinal cord injury, like numbness, nerve pain and pelvic floor dysfunction, but has plans to conquer Everest Base Camp in November.
She said: “It doesn’t feel real, it feels so surreal that even happened but I’m thankful that the accident happened.
“I feel like there’s a like lot of growth that came out of it, and I really think there’s opportunity in tragedy.
“You can always find something positive even if you can’t see it now, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and you’re going to be better for whatever you’re going through.”
Jordan even hopes to skydive again one day, after doing a few practices in the wind tunnel.
“Don’t tell my family!” she joked. “We’ll see what happened when I get to the plane door!”