To be honest, our idea of a good time is, you know, sitting on our couch, eating a snack, and catching up on our shows, but those that crave bigger and better adventures, often do things like rock climbing, bungee jumping, and, of course, skydiving. Now the argument could be made that statistics tell us more people die in car accidents than skydiving accidents (but for the record, you’ve got a better chance at getting us behind the wheel than in an airplane with a parachute strapped to us!) Today we’re talking about Joan Murray, the woman that cheated a tragic skydiving accident with the help of some very little friends.
(image via: twitter)
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re skydiving, for instance, you could pull your chute too early, too late, or you could pull it at just the right time but it simply doesn’t pop out as it should. And to really put things into perspective, anyone falling some 14,000 feet at well over 100 mph is ~more than likely~ going to go splat on impact. But every once in a great while, and emphasis on the ‘once’ because we’re convinced this is a once in a lifetime thing, you may just survive the fall.
Joan Murray was 47 years old and working as a bank executive in North Carolina when she discovered her love of skydiving, you know, aside from also being a wife and mother. Now Joan had taken hours upon hours of skydiving training and even had over 30 dives under her belt before she geared up for a dive on September 25, 1999.
Things were going exactly as they should, Joan got the all-clear, hopped out of the plane door, the freefall was going splendid, then as per usual Joan reached back to deploy her parachute, and instead of feeling the release of her chute, Joan felt absolutely nothing. Remember that whole ‘splat’ thing from earlier?
(image via: npr)
Luckily Joan thought faster than we ever could, remembering she has a reserve chute for situations just like this. With one swift pull, Joan felt the sweet release of a parachute and began her slow descent. Until she started spinning. And spinning, and spinning, until all of her cords became so tangled that her chute was rendered useless and she was once again freefalling. So just to recap: both chutes have failed her and Joan was heading for the hard ground and roughly 80 mph and all people could do was watch in horror. Emergency personnel was called and Joan was rushed to the hospital.
Doctors couldn’t believe Joan was still alive, and while they were treating her they began to notice tiny red bumps all over her body. Upon further investigation, doctors found over 200 bites from fire ants. And we’re all thinking the same thing, that this woman couldn’t get a break, but these hundreds of fire ant bites actually saved Joan’s life. How? Through their venom. A fire ants venom is known as solenopsin, and with over 200 bites, that’s a lot of solenopsin, just enough, as it turns out, to keep a person’s heart beating. After a coma, 20 surgeries, 17 blood transfusions, rods in her legs, and spikes in her pelvis, Joan began physical therapy and before she left the hospital, she was WALKING to her car.