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Texas teen in hospital after parachuting accident in Chickasha

A Texas teen is recovering at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City after a skydiving accident left her badly injured.
by Jonathan Sutton and Kyle Fredrickson Modified: January 28, 2014 at 8:49 pm •  Published: January 28, 2014

A Texas teen who fell 3,500 feet from an airplane in a skydiving accident in Chickasha was recovering Tuesday at OU Medical Center, and her parents questioned whether she was properly trained and equipped for the jump.

Makenzie Wethington, 16, of Joshua, Texas, suffered a major fracture in her liver, broke her pelvis, shoulder blade, several ribs, a lumbar vertebra in her lower spine and a tooth after complications during her jump on Saturday caused her to spiral down after her chute opened.

Wethington was moved out of the intensive care unit Tuesday afternoon and is in good condition, with feeling in her extremities and the ability to speak, leaving doctors marveling at her recovery.

Wethington's parents, Joe and Holly Wethington, said it was Makenzie's dream to go skydiving on her 16th birthday at Pegasus Air Sports in Chickasha, as Oklahoma allows 16-year-olds to sky-dive with parental permission. The legal age to sky-dive in Texas is 18.

Paramedics responded to the accident scene in about 15 minutes. Jeffrey Bender, the OU Medical Center trauma surgeon who treated Wethington, was not initially optimistic about Wethington's future upon her arrival.

“When I saw her in the emergency department, I would have predicted she was not going to survive all of this,” Bender said. “But I'm always happy to be wrong about these things.”

Wethington's parents said doctors called their daughter's recovery “miraculous.”

Within 12 hours of arriving at OU medical, her internal bleeding had stabilized and she began regaining consciousness, Bender said. She is expected to go through six to eight weeks of rehabilitation before being back at full strength.

What happened?

Bob Swainson, owner of Pegasus, was in the airplane when Wethington jumped. He said her chute opened fully but took a left turn after opening and spiraled to the ground.

Swainson, who has been skydiving for 46 years, said he did not want to speculate on whether the parachute or Wethington caused the turn.

“All I'm going to say is it had a bit of a turn, and it wasn't corrected,” he said. “It probably could have been corrected.”

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by Jonathan Sutton
Breaking News Reporter
Jonathan Sutton is a reporter covering breaking news and crime for The Oklahoman and He grew up in Ada and has a degree in journalism from Oklahoma State University. He was the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily O'Collegian, OSU's student...
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by Kyle Fredrickson
OSU beat writer
Kyle Fredrickson became the Oklahoma State beat writer for The Oklahoman and in July 2014. A native Coloradoan, Fredrickson attended Western State College before transferring to Oklahoma State in 2010 and graduating in 2012. Fredrickson...
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