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Injured Marine Testifies About Terrifying Fall With Parachute

March 19, 2003|From Associated Press

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — One of three Marines injured when their allegedly sabotaged parachutes failed to open testified about his fall Tuesday, recalling the terror as he plunged to the ground.

Chief Warrant Officer Earl Hutchins' testimony came at a military hearing for two Marines accused of attempted murder. Hutchins said he was the first to jump from a plane during training on Sept. 21, 2002. He said he was taught to count by the thousands from 1,000 to 6,000 before looking up to ensure that his parachute had opened.

"When I finally got to 6,000, I looked up and all I saw was streamers and strings," Hutchins said. He landed with a reserve chute.

After the three were hurt, authorities found that suspension lines on 13 parachutes had been cut.

Lance Cpl. Julian Ramirez, 25, of Los Angeles, and Lance Cpl. Antoine D. Boykins, 21, of Baltimore, face charges in the incident.

Both were riggers who packed parachutes.

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