Woman knocked unconscious while skydiving survives after crashing onto Erda roof


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ERDA, Tooele County — A woman was seriously injured in a skydiving accident in Tooele over the weekend.

The 36-year-old is described as a licensed D-level jumper and was free-flying with her husband, according to Brandon Tomlins, company operation manager of SkyDive Utah. The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. Sunday.

Company co-owner Mike Chapman said the couple was essentially using SkyDive Utah as their taxi service as they are highly skilled jumpers.

According to Tomlins, the woman hit her head against her husband's left shoulder shortly after jumping from the plane. She was knocked unconscious as she fell at 120 mph from 12,000 feet in the air.

"These are very rare, rare incidents that happen," Tomlins said.

Unable to open her own parachute, Tomlins said an automatic activation device released a second emergency parachute, likely saving her life.

"She got a good parachute right between 1,000 and 1,300 feet above the ground," Tomlins said. "Had that not happened, this would be a very different story."

Chapman explained SkyDive Utah requires skydivers, including licensed solo and experienced jumpers, to use an automatic activation device.

Tomlins said they monitor every jump from the ground and when they saw the secondary parachute deploy, they immediately knew something wasn't right.

The woman ended up landing on the roof of a house just outside the airport grounds, near 2220 Erda Way. It appears she hit an active power line on the roof of a home before falling to the ground, according to Tomlins and paramedics.

"There's an insulated line that goes from the structure to the main power grid. It's pretty common with older houses in rural areas," said Jon Smith, spokesman for the North Tooele Fire District.

"One of our instructors was on their way home and they were there within 30 seconds of her actually landing and they are an advanced EMT," said Tomlins. "I was on scene within three minutes, I'm also the safety and training adviser on the drop zone."

First responders on scene within minutes

EMTs, deputies, and other medical personnel arrived within moments.

"We were able to treat her at the scene and get her aboard an AirMed helicopter and then transport her to a trauma center in Salt Lake County," Smith said.

Paramedics said the woman did not have obvious signs of electrocution, though it appears she had some contact with the powerline.

"We don't know if she hit the wire, or if she hit the tree and then hit the wire or if the chute hit the wire. We still don't know, that will all be part of the investigation," Smith said.

Tomlins suspects the skydiver avoided electrocution because she was not grounded during the moment of impact.

A small grass fire started next to the home, presumably from the power line sparking.

'Lucky outcome'

"It was a lucky outcome to an unlucky scenario for sure," Tomlins said of the woman receiving immediate medical care and surviving possible contact with the power line.

The North Tooele Fire District and Tooele County Sheriff's Office said the woman remains in serious condition, but they declined to provide specifics about her injuries.

"We're just wishing her well and thankful for the EMS response," Tomlins said.

Other sources indicate the woman may have suffered a broken back and has undergone surgery.

Rocky Mountain Power company confirmed it was contacted at 5:30 p.m. Sunday to assess the situation.

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Garna Mejia
Garna Mejia is a reporter for KSL-TV

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