The 16-year-old Texas girl who survived a 3,500 foot fall in an Oklahoma skydiving accident spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the accident.
Makenzie Wethington has been recovering at the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas.
"I would like to, first of all, thank God," she said at a news conference.
Wethington was fulfilling a birthday wish and "bucket list" check-off in Oklahoma on Jan. 25, skydiving solo for her first dive when she had an issue opening her chute. She plummeted to the ground while her horrified father looked on.
Her injuries were extensive; damage to her liver, spine, ribs and teeth, as well as a broken pelvis. She also suffered brain trauma.
Wethington said Thursday she remembers everything about the accident, and very little afterward. “I was scared and I know there was something very wrong... I think I went into shock," she said of the fall.
Wethington's parents and doctor were at her side during the news conference.
"I've seen a lot of amazing things in my career, but I can't explain how someone survives this," Dr. Seema Sikka said.
Sikka said she expected Wethington to be walking without the aid of a walker "Very soon. Maybe within the next month." Even after being released, Wethington will need physical therapy, as well as speech therapy to recapture some of the cognitive loss due to her brain trauma, Sikka said.
That can't be soon enough for Wethington, who declared herself "very ready to go back to school." Wethington's classmates have been extremely supportive of her, and suggested she and her parents don pink T-shirts with the words "How Strong Are You?" emblazoned across them for the press conference.
Posed the same question by reporters, Wethington concluded with "Makenzie strong. Strong enough to fall 3,500 feet and live.”
— John Baiata
First published February 13 2014, 9:58 AM