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Gazette Premium Content Texas girl survives 3,000-foot skydiving fall, in Oklahoma hospital

By Jonathan Sutton and Kyle Fredrickson, The Oklahoman Updated: January 29, 2014 at 7:41 am
By Jonathan Sutton and Kyle Fredrickson, The Oklahoman Updated: January 29, 2014 at 7:41 am • Published: January 29, 2014

TULSA, Okla. — A 16-year-old Texas girl who plummeted more than 3,000 feet to the ground in an Oklahoma skydiving accident survived and is recovering from her many injuries, a doctor said Tuesday. Dr. Jeffrey Bender, a trauma surgeon at OU Medical Center who treated Makenzie Wethington...

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A Texas teen who fell 3,500 feet from an airplane in a skydiving accident in Chickasha was recovering Tuesday at University of Oklahoma 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.

Read more and see video from a news conference at

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