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article imageTerror at 13,000 feet: skydiving mishap nearly kills 80-year-old

By Yukio Strachan     May 26, 2012 in Lifestyle
It's an 80th birthday she'll likely never forget. An elderly woman was left hanging on for dear life after a skydiving instructor pushed her out of a plane allegedly before her harness was secured.
The now viral video shows the elderly thrill seeker, who only identifies herself as Laverne, saying she had turned 80 and had been planning to carry out the parachute jump for a decade to celebrate her birthday, MSNBC reports.
Once on the plane, the woman is shown grabbing onto the sides of the plane and apparently telling her instructor from The Parachute Center in Acampo, California, that she doesn’t want to go when it becomes her turn.
But the instructor persists, prying her fingers from the door frame and apparently pushing her out of the plane.
The pair tumble out of control at speeds of up to 125mph and it becomes apparent that Laverne has partially slipped out of her harness, her jacket blown over her head exposing her back and bra, the Telegraph adds.
A cameraman filming the jump approaches to help hold her and the instructor grips her by her knees before pulling his parachute.
At the end of the video, posted online by, a voice can be heard saying "Oh my God!"
As the Telegraph notes, the group appear to have landed safely although seem still in shock, with both the instructor and jumper being comforted after the near tragic event.
Tandem Instructor nearly kills tandem student
Published on May 24, 2012, Canadianskydiver is one poster of about eight on YouTube. Another YouTube poster iLoveSkydivingVideos, has already racked up 450,719 views since its publication.
"Tandem Instructor nearly kills his tandem student by not having the tandem harness properly adjusted prior to exit," Canadianskydiver alleges.
80-year-old Laverne Everette appearing to get fitted for her harness.
80-year-old Laverne Everette appearing to get fitted for her harness.
screenshot via YouTube
Video was posted and then taken down by original poster. I am reposting the video to serve as an educational reminder for all Tandem Instructors to properly gear up your students and have the harnesses properly adjusted prior to the aircraft leaving the ground.
The Daily Mail in London quoted a British expert as saying the woman could have easily fallen out of the harness.
"She was very close to slipping out," said Tony Butler, technical officer at the British Parachute Association. "You can see from the video the instructor was trying to get to the harness and cling on to it."
"At the start of the clip she is reluctant to jump and they were in a bad position with her holding onto the door frame as they left the plane," he told the Daily Mail. "Things like this have happened in the United States before and there have been two fatalities."
“I am not a tandem instructor but I am a skydiver. At 1:35 you can clearly see the her left harness strap is hanging off her left shoulder,”YouTube viewer katyu16 wrote after watching the video. "This should've been properly adjusted on her while on the ground."
A tandem instructor agreed.
"I am a tandem instructor (Sigma rated) and I can assure you, the harness was not adjusted properly," said YouTube user canadianskydiver who posted has racked up almost 10,000 views. "You can see one of the straps sliding off the woman's shoulder when she is sitting in the aircraft."
80-year-old Laverne Everette shown on plane  with left strap appearing to slip off shoulder before s...
80-year-old Laverne Everette shown on plane, with left strap appearing to slip off shoulder before skydive.
screenshot via YouTube
"Proper gear up procedure is to have the harness jump ready prior to the aircraft leaving the ground," canadianskydiver adds.
No further information about the incident contacted the Parachute Center and a man who identified himself as Bill Dause, the owner, said the video was "real old, well over a year ago" and that he had no further information about the incident.
But luckily, the woman in the video, 81-year-old Laverne Everette did.
She spoke to CBS 5 on Friday explaining "my knees had given out inside the plane,” she said.
Jump: Laverne appears to resist  because her knees gave out  the instructor appears to pry her hands...
Jump: Laverne appears to resist, because her knees gave out, the instructor appears to pry her hands away and pushes her out of the plane.
screenshot via YouTube
“I fell, I had a rough landing,” she said.
Everette said she saw herself as lucky, being able to recently celebrate her 81st birthday.
“I just held on, you do what you got to do,” she said, recalling the jump. “Put yourself in my position, I think you’d be holding on too.”
The incident occurred May 2nd of last year, she told CBS 5, but the FAA said it was e-mailed the video on Thursday and is now investigating the incident.
“We received the e-mail of the video late yesterday. An FAA safety inspector visited The Parachute Center today,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in an e-mail to the CBS affiliate in Sacramento. “He spoke with the company owner and some employees about the incident in question. He plans to do additional interviews and examine records next week.”
The FAA has a history with company.
FOX40 News says the Parachute Center had been fined about $900,000 by the FAA for violations unrelated to the incident on the video.
“We have proposed two civil penalties (fines) totaling about $900,000 against The Parachute Center for violations unrelated to the incident captured on video,” Gregor said. “We referred the cases to the U.S. Attorney’s Office because we couldn’t reach a settlement with the company.”
A skydiver was also severely injured during a jump at the Parachute Center earlier this month, CBS 5 reported.
More about Skydive tandem, tandem harness, Laverne Everette, The Parachute Center, Federal Aviation Administration
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