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NZ skydiver survives harrowing plunge to ground after parachute fails

A skydiver in New Zealand suffered serious injuries Thursday when he plunged toward the ground after the steering on his main parachute failed, forcing him to "cut away" and turn to his reserve parachute, which only partially worked, police said.

The 35-year-old man, whose furious descent was only slowed when his reserve chute finally opened 750 feet above the ground, landed so hard that he bounced, The Associated Press reported.

"He came down fast and hit the ground full blast,'' the New Zealand news website quoted a witness as saying.

The man, who was not named, was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including to his back, after the incident at the Motueka aerodrome on the country's South Island, Detective John Nicholls of the Motueka Police said in a statement.

He was being treated in the nearby city of Nelson, the statement said. His injuries were not believed to be life threatening.

Seasoned skydiver
The injured man is a skydiving veteran, with more than 1,000 dives to his credit, the Otago (Dunedin, New Zealand) Daily Times reported.

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He had jumped from 13,000 feet and deployed his main parachute at 4,000 feet, Stuart Bean, the owner of Skydive Abel Tasman, told

Bean told the Daily Times that the man's main parachute failed to work properly due to a "steering fault."

The man's initial freefall was "uneventful," Bean said. But when his parachute opened he was unable to steer it, forcing him to "cut away" and turn to his reserve chute, he told the newspaper.

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The reserve parachute only opened 750 feet above the ground, causing the man to land heavily, Bean told the Daily Times.

The skydiver was "going faster than you would like" when he hit the ground, Bean told Reports said the man remained conscious throughout the ordeal.

The company said it would carry out an investigation into the parachute's failure.

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The injured skydiver hails from the North Island town of Taupo, according to local media reports.

The accident occurred during the 11th annual Good Vibes skydiving festival, according to New Zealand's One News.

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