Family says parachute didn't fully open; owner of skydiving company says it did.
JOSHUA, Texas — A 16-year-old girl survived a fall from 3,500 feet during a skydiving accident in Oklahoma.
Makenzie Wethington of Joshua, Texas, was skydiving for the first time when her family says her parachute did not open.
Makenzie has always been intrigued by skydiving.
"It was her dream," said her sister Meagan. "So my dad said, 'On your 16th birthday, I will take you skydiving.' "
Makenzie and her father went to Pegasus Air Sport in Chickasha, Okla., about 43 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, on Saturday. That afternoon, Meagan got a call from her dad, Joe.
"He was like, 'Makenzie's parachute didn't open up; it got tangled.' And I was like, 'This is not funny,' " Meagan said.
Makenzie is hospitalized with internal bleeding, broken vertebrae, and a shattered pelvis. She is breathing on her own in the intensive care unit of an Oklahoma City hospital.
"She's okay. She's not dead. She could be," Meagan said.
According to KXAS-TV in Dallas, Joe Wethington jumped out of the plane first.
"I wanted to be behind her, you know, in case something happened, I could be behind her. But that couldn't happen because of the weight of the plane and the people, so I had to be first. She had to be last," he said.
Wethington said he watched Makenzie's jump from the ground and knew something was wrong.
"She's just now coming out of the plane, but she's flipping out of the plane," Wethington said.
Makenzie hit the ground.
Bob Swainson, owner of Pegasus Air Sport, told WFAA-TV that Makenzie's parachute did open, but that there was a problem with it, and they're not sure what created that problem.
Swainson also said Makenzie did not follow the training she received before the jump on how to activate a second chute. He said it is too early to comment on anything else relating to the accident.
The family figures Makenzie was panicked, which is why she never deployed that second parachute.
Wethington said the instructor remained in the plane after Makenzie's jump because another jumper didn't get out of the plane, according to KXAS-TV.
The family has questions about why she was jumping alone on her first try.
Meagan set up a Facebook page to track Makenzie's recovery. The family also has set up a YouCaring account for donations to Makenzie's care.
The family is hiring a lawyer as the investigation into the accident continues.