On March 22, Sebastian Leal jumped out of an airplane for the 402nd time. But unlike jumps Nos. 1-401, this time something went horrifyingly wrong.
Leal’s midair collision with another skydiver more than 14,000 feet above Zephyrhills, Fla., was captured by the GoPro camera he happened to be wearing. According to WFTS-TV in Tampa, he ended up more than 3 1/2 miles from the drop zone, fracturing four vertebrae after hitting power lines on the way down. He’s now paralyzed from the waist down and faces a lengthy rehabilitation in Atlanta.
Despite his injuries and the terrifying way they happened. Leal is staying positive on Facebook.
And he doesn’t want this to scare people away from skydiving.
“It’s a very rare, freak accident,” Leal, a 23-year-old Mexico City native who was on vacation, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I don’t want people to be discouraged. I want them to be inspired to go skydiving.”
Leal was wearing a wingsuit, which features webbing between the arms and legs that allows skydivers to more or less fly through the air. David “T.K.” Hayes, president and general manager of the skydiving company that Leal was using, told the Times that wingsuits are reserved only for experienced divers with more than 200 jumps under their belts. Plus, Leal was taking part in a coordinated dive with four others, with all of them exiting the plane as close as they can.
“It’s like flying fighter jets wing tip to wing tip,” Hayes told the Times.
Here’s what it’s supposed to look like when things don’t go sideways. It’s from Leal himself on Instagram.
Leal told the Tribune he hopes to return to Zephyrhills to skydive again when he gets better. Hopefully he’ll look more like this: