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Pregnant skydiver survives face-first plunge
Updated: 2005-12-13 21:30

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. - Pregnant skydiver Shayna Richardson has survived a face-first plunge into the ground.

Richardson, 21, of Joplin, Mo., was making her first solo jump in Siloam Springs, Ark., on Oct. 9 when her main parachute failed and her reserve chute didn't fully deploy.

Richardson was falling at about 50 mph when she hit face first in a parking lot. Badly injured, but alive, Richardson spent 16 days in a hospital.

"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, Ark., television station KFSM.

She cut away her primary chute so her reserve could deploy.

"It's called your guaranteed open. That's what everyone refers to it as," Richardson said.

But the reserve didn't open all the way.

"To have a malfunctioning reserve is one in a million. It just doesn't happen," Richardson said.

She spun out of control, heading straight for the asphalt of a parking lot 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."

She landed face first.

"In the hit, I egg shelled my entire face. Everything got egg shelled. I broke my pelvis in two places and I broke my leg," Richardson said.

Rescuers got her to a hospital in Fayetteville where Richardson underwent surgery.

"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.

During treatment, doctors found that Richardson was pregnant, which was a surprise to her.

She said she would not have jumped had she known she was pregnant.

"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 50 miles per hour," Richardson said.

Four surgeries and two months later, Richardson said she and her 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," Richardson said.

Richardson has 15 steel plates in her face and lost six teeth. Her fall was videotaped and Richardson said she was able to watch it, without qualms.

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

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

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