Parachute Accident: Lucky to Be Alive

The skydiver was Tommy Ferguson, and here is a copy of the statement he posted when he uploaded his Youtube video in 2011:

“The skydive accident that caused the loss of my left arms feeling due to nerves being severed from spine, which I am still waiting for the amputation confirmation date. All I remember is looking over at the pit and seeing the trailer and wanting to avoid it. Upon exiting the plain the winds on the ground were at 11 mph due west. Coming in on landing I did a pen check and was being blown backwards from the west and crosswinds from the north. The winds at the time of the crash were all over, varying from west and north anywhere from 20 mph to gust of 28 mph. The GoPro camera I was using makes it look like I am farther away from the trailer than i really am. I had a small window of time to make a decision attempt to miss the trailer or due a low turn and pitch myself into the ground with a down draft and traveling at around 45 mph. I am here posting this video so as far as I’m concerned it was the right decision at the time. In truth, I PROBABLY SHOULDN’T BE ALIVE… I DO NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING AFTER THAT ALL I DO IS WATCH THE VIDEO!”

And, here are a pair of the many other comments posted at

Target Fixation hits the nail on the head. Credit to Mr. Fergusun for allowing this to be posted so others can learn from it. His “Staff” T-shirt, his spotting of the plane and giving last second coaching to the student, as well as his sporting a camera all suggest a trusted, somewhat experienced skydiver. Once we set aside the missed opportunity to allow the canopy to fly in half-brakes to take advantage of the long upwind spot that still left him with plenty of safe landing spots upwind, what we have, below 500 feet, is target fixation pure and simple. That this is recognized among pilots and motorcyclists makes it a phenomenon worth being aware of as skydivers.
This location is Cañon City, Colorado. I actually went there about a month ago, and I just ran into this video today. I had actually met the man with the amputated arm. Same Trailer is still driven out to the Landing Zone every day to give jumpers a ride back to the hangar cause its about a half mile walk. I completely agree that it shouldnt be there, but it is. The problem was object fixation 100% because the landing space there is ENORMOUS. it is nothing but flat sandy/rocky space everywhere.

Personally, I am no fan of skydiving, and I strongly dislike the local skydiving outfit in Molalla.**Molalla Skydive draws jumpers from the Portland area, and typically jumps at around 13,000′ altitude. They use a loud Cessna 208 and climb in circles over a rural/residential area roughly 6-miles northeast of the airport. The operator has been hostile toward those citizens who have voiced complaints, and is doing nothing to mitigate his impacts. Here are links with more information about this aviation impact: [link1] — [link2] But, we all have our passions, and Mr. Ferguson clearly gets a thrill from this activity. And, I admire the fact that Mr. Ferguson shared his experience so openly, which should help teach others.

This kind of transparency really does save lives.

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1ArmSkydiver, frame at 0.00Start of the video, being shot by the accident victim’s helmet-mounted camera. This is just prior to opening the door for jumps.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 0.04The accident victim opens the door and steps outside to supervise the jumps by the other two skydivers.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 0.58Monitoring descent and generally assessing the landing area.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.33The approach was from over the airport and aimed to land in the area where the trailer was parked.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.51Three seconds prior to landing, starting to turn toward the right.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.54A split-second prior to landing.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.54b, pre-impactFrame showing imminent impact at back-right corner of trailer. Note the windsock in the center.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.54 - impactDuring the impact. Left leg is buckling, head has tipped hard forward and downward. Shadows indicate he impacted the corner area of the metal trailer.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.55 - impact, head on right sideHe hit the ground hard and his head was initially laying on the right side.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 2.55 - laying on ground, head on left sideHis head then shifted to lay on the left side.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 3.31 - right hand at helmet & cameraForty seconds later, he moved his right hand toward the front of his head, within view of the helmet camera.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 3.43 -helmet & camera removed from headThe helmet (and camera) was removed from his head and set on the ground. Note the left arm, which remained motionless throughout the video.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 7.01 -parachutist sitting up with broken left armHe was sat up by the two staff manning the truck/trailer. It was at this point that they realized he had no sensitivity in his left arm.
1ArmSkydiver, frame at 7.09 - helmet & camera set upright