Pregnant Skydiver Survives Plunge
12/14/2005 AT 03:00 PM EST
Then, after the fall, the 21-year-old found out she was pregnant.
When Richardson made the jump on Oct. 9, her main parachute failed – and then her reserve chute also malfunctioned. Richardson was traveling at about 50 mph when she landed face first on the asphalt, the Associated Press reports.
"I heard a snap and I started spinning and I didn't know why. I didn't know what to do to fix it. I didn't know how to make it stop," Richardson told Fort Smith, Ark., television station KFSM.
She then cut her primary chute so her reserve could deploy. "It's called your guaranteed open. That's what everyone refers to it as," said Richardson, who spent 16 days in a hospital after her reserve didn't fully open either. "To have a malfunctioning reserve is one in a million. It just doesn't happen."
While falling, Richardson spun out of control and headed straight for a parking lot below.
"I don't remember hitting the ground. I don't remember the impact or anything that came with it," she told AP. "In the hit, I egg shelled my entire face. Everything got egg shelled. I broke my pelvis in two places and I broke my leg."
Rescuers got her to a hospital in Fayetteville where Richardson underwent surgery.
"I went into the first surgery where they cut me from ear to ear and they cut my face down and they took out all the fractured egg-shelled bones and put in steel plates," Richardson said. It wasn't until this treatment that doctors discovered Richardson was pregnant, which was a surprise to her.
She said she would not have jumped had she known she was pregnant.
"To hit the ground belly first – that's dangerous. I mean at any stage of pregnancy that's dangerous," Richardson said. "That's not something you want to do let alone at 50 miles per hour."
But after four surgeries, today Richardson said she and her fetus are doing fine.
"Just this last week we went and saw the doctor and we've got arms, we've got legs. We've got a full face," she said. "The baby is moving around just fine. The heart rate looks good. So not only did God save me but he spared this baby."
Richardson has 15 steel plates in her face and lost six teeth. Her fall was videotaped, and "I wanted to watch it," she said. "The whole reason I'm comfortable with watching it is because I know how it ends."
Richardson, whose due date is June 25, said she doesn't plan to quit her skydiving hobby after she gives birth. She's planning another parachute jump next August.