Helmet cam captures dramatic skydiving emergency

Mar 2, 2015 10:28 AM by CBS News

Christopher Jones, 22, was making his 5th solo jump more than two miles above the Earth in Western Australia last November when he suffered a medical emergency, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

The skydiver had been cleared by doctors to jump and hadn't suffered an epileptic episode in years, but at one point during the 12,000 foot fall, Jones became paralyzed. The instructor's helmet camera captured the mid-air drama that unfolded and Jones said it was the scariest moment of his life.

"In mid-air falling at 220-odd kilometers an hour to the ground. So yeah, I'm very lucky," Jones said.

At first, the skydiving session appeared to be going according to plan, but at about 9,000 feet, Jones, who was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, said he passed out.

"My arms go back and I roll on to my back and yeah, basically for the next 30 seconds I'm in freefall and unconscious," he said.

Jones said he was suffering a seizure mid-air as he was trying to make a left turn.

His instructor, Sheldon McFarlane tried, but at first failed to grab Jones as he continued to plummet out of control and unconscious.

"He started de-arching, and his knees coming down and going into the fetal position rolled onto his back," McFarlane said. "I wasn't aware that he was having an epileptic seizure."

McFarlane, who's had more than 10,000 jumps, tried again and was successful in reaching Jones. He pulled the rip cord, releasing the parachute with little time to spare.

"Sheldon realizes and dives in like Superman and grabs me and thankfully pulls my chute and yeah, I'm here to tell the tale," Jones said.

He regained consciousness at about 3,000 feet before gliding to safety unharmed. He had this message for the man who saved him: "So thankful; so thankful. What he did actually probably saved my life."

© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Stay up to date with the latest North State headlines by downloading the FREE Action News Now mobile app


Most Popular