Thu, Dec 15, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Skydiver's fetus doing fine months after chute mishap

AP , SILOAM SPRINGS, ARKANSAS

Shayna Richardson was making her first solo skydiving jump when she had trouble with her parachutes and, while falling at about 80kph, hit face first in a parking lot.

Although badly hurt, she survived -- and doctors treating her injuries discovered she was pregnant. Four surgeries and two months later, Richardson said that she and the fetus are doing fine.

"Just this last week we went and saw the doctor and we've got arms, we've got legs. We've got a full face. The baby is moving around just fine. The heart rate looks good. So not only did God save me but He spared this baby," she said.

Main Parachute

Richardson, 21, was skydiving in Siloam Springs on Oct. 9 when her main parachute failed.

"I heard a snap and I started spinning and I didn't know why. I didn't know what to do to fix it. I didn't know how to make it stop," Richardson told Fort Smith, Arkansas, television station KFSM.

She cut away her primary chute so her reserve could deploy, but it didn't open all the way. She spun out of control, heading straight for the asphalt below.

"At the end I said, `I'm going to die. I'm going to hit the ground. I'm going to die,'" she said.

"I don't remember it. I don't remember hitting the ground. I don't remember the impact or anything that came with it," Richardson said.

Rescuers got her to a hospital in Fayetteville, where Richardson underwent surgery. She broke her pelvis in two places, broke her leg, lost six teeth and now has 15 steel plates.

"I went into the first surgery where they cut me from ear to ear and they cut my face down and they took out all the fractured egg-shelled bones and put in steel plates," Richardson said.

Surprise

During treatment, doctors found that Richardson was pregnant, which was a surprise to her. She said she would not have jumped had she known.

"To hit the ground belly first -- that's dangerous. I mean at any stage of pregnancy that's dangerous. That's not something you want to do let alone at 80kph," Richardson said.

Her fall was videotaped and Richardson said she was able to watch it, without qualms.

"I wanted to watch it," she said. "And the whole reason I'm comfortable with watching it because I know how it ends."

Richardson said her due date is June 25 next year. She plans to make her next parachute jump in August.

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