EAGLE CREEK, Ore. (KOIN) — Nicole Crandall had 81 parachute jumps to her credit, including 19 this season, when she went skydiving September 5 at Eagle Creek.
She did one jump and decided to do a second one that day. But she made an error. “My understanding is that I packed (the parachute) wrong,” she said.
“They want me to pull at 3500 feet, so that’s what I did,” Crandall told KOIN 6 News. The chute deployed, but her right brake — used for steering — was out of reach.
“I was trying to reach up and I was just fixated on it” when, she said, she let go of her left brake for one last try.
“As I let go, it sent me into this spiral down to the ground.”
It was too late to try for her reserve chute, and the spiral took her down to the ground.
“I remember laying on the ground and everybody saying, ‘Stay awake, stay awake,’” she said.
Some people say horses in the field where she crash landed helped save her from being hurt worse by stepping on the parachute to prevent her from blowing away.
Crandall was airlifted to a hospital for treatment of a broken right femur, left tibia and fibula, 3 breaks and a fracture to her pelvis and 8 fractured ribs.
“However I landed, a fraction left or right, I could’ve been paralyzed,” she said. Instead, Crandall is recuperating and using a wheelchair — but she could be back on her feet in less than a year.
Her friend Jessica Hoopes has been by her side since the crash. “She’s got so much fight in her,” Hoopes said. “I don’t know if she’d make half the progress that she’s made so far if she wasn’t the fighter that she is.”