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Teen’s parachute doesn’t fully open during birthday skydive

Posted at 9:18 AM, Jan 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-29 09:18:29-05

OKLAHOMA CITY (CNN) -  To celebrate her 16th birthday, Makenzie Wethington wanted to take the plunge of a lifetime, a skydiving adventure with her father.

It almost killed her.

skydive 01Makenzie jumped from 3,500 feet as her father watched from the ground. But after she jumped, her parachute didn't fully open and she started to spiral down.

"The guy on the radio on the ground is trying to talk her out of what's going on and telling her what to do but she can't do it," father Joe Wethington said.

Makenzie's family said she might have blacked out in the fall.

The teenager survived, but her injuries are life threatening. The impact broke vertabrae and her pelvis and caused internal bleeding. She was not paralyzed.

The owner of Pegasus Air Sports Center in Oklahoma said he suspected Makenzie didn't follow the training guidelines.

skydive 02"The parachute appeared to open OK. There are a number of technical reasons why that could have happened possibly caused by the jumper herself. The jumper didn't sort out the rotation in accordance with the training she received earlier and continuted to rotate to the ground and hurt herself," Pegasus Air Sports Center Owner Bob Swainson said.

Makenzie Wethington remains hospitalized, recovering from her near-death experience.