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Skydiver Rescued by Colleague After Being Knocked Unconscious

April 23, 1987|Associated Press

PHOENIX — A skydiver went into a headlong dive to catch up with an unconscious colleague and open her parachute seconds before she would have struck the ground.

Diane Williams was about 3,500 feet, or 10 seconds, from the ground, when Gregory Robertson pulled out of his rescue dive, propped her into an upright position, yanked her ripcord, then released his own chute, Robertson and witnesses said.

Williams, 31, of Slaton, Tex., and a veteran of about 50 jumps, was knocked unconscious when she collided with another diver, Guy Fitzwater of Van Nuys, Calif., during a formation drop Saturday near Coolidge, about 50 miles southeast of Phoenix.

Fitzwater remained conscious but had a rough landing that left him bruised.

Williams, Fitzwater and four others were to have linked hands after jumping from a plane at about 13,500 feet. Robertson, 25, who says he has made about 1,500 jumps, was in charge of the drop.

The collision occurred at about 9,000 feet, Robertson said Tuesday evening during an interview while visiting Williams at the hospital. Robertson said he had been floating with arms and legs spread but after seeing the collision he pinned his arms to his side, closed his legs and--with small movements of his shoulders--managed to catch up with the spinning, tumbling woman.

Williams, who observers said hit the ground flat on her back, remained hospitalized Wednesday in serious but stable condition under intensive care with several broken ribs, extensive internal injuries and a lung contusion, a Scottsdale Memorial Hospital official said.

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