1. daenku32 says

    His friend did have the dumbest questions…
    “Does it hurt?”

    Then again I doubt he was thinking all that clearly either…

  2. Carlie says

    I would have been screaming all sorts of unprintable things on the way down.

    I too, thought “You ok?” was the dumbest statement ever, until I heard “Hurt anywhere?” But yeah, not like you can think straight when your buddy just plummeted to the ground.

  3. says

    I’m just curious: what should one say to someone who has just fallen out of an airplane and smacked into the ground?

    “Are you dead?”

    “Hey…your parachute didn’t open, didja know that?”

    Maybe you should just quietly rifle through his wallet.

  4. says

    I think his friend was not really trying to get answers to those dumb questions; I think he was trying to get the injured guy to talk, and see if he was coherent. There’s also a possibility the injured guy could temporarily feel very little pain.

  5. Don says

    Joel’s right, like asking ‘What’s your name’ or ‘What day is it?’. Two very together guys.

  6. Christine says

    “Oh dear, you seem to have fallen down a fifty foot well – are you all right?”

    What an amazing story. And encouraging that he baldly states he didn’t see a white light, didn’t think about the afterlife, or even his girlfriend. He concentrated until the last possible moment on staying alive. Good for him.

  7. Curt Cameron says

    How do you see the video? I can’t even tell where it’s supposed to show up. My guess is just below where it says “Now watch the incredible footage…” but for me that is immediately followed by “Click here to read our interview…”

    It is the same in both Firefox and IE.

    I myself had a skydiving accident in 1990 – I did a tandem jump and the jolt when the chute opened broke my C2 vertebra wide open.

  8. says

    Famous last words, from the interview:

    “I tried to think of something, the right thing to say for the camera. But I looked at the ground again and without thinking I just blurted out, “Oh s***, I’m dead…Bye!!!!”

    Well, famous not-quite-last words ,at least.

  9. Brian says

    Actually, daenku, asking “Does it hurt” serves a few useful purposes. A few spring to mind, including 1) verifying responsiveness & sufficient breathing (’cause if someone can talk, they can breathe, no?); 2) localization of pain to get an idea of extent of injuries; 3) establishing sensation (i.e., if the dude says “No, actually, I can’t feel anything below my nipples – this is a Very Bad Sign.).

    So I can’t agree that that was a dumb question.

    No, a dumb question would have been more along the lines of PZ’s suggestion: “Hey, your parachute didn’t open… didja know that?”

  10. CS says

    Despite what the article says, this guy was not in free fall. You can see in the latter half of the video (the part showing the view from the other skydiver) that the parachute was open (at least partially), albeit tangled. From other commentary, his speed at impact can be put around 30 mph. That makes it far from certain that he would be seriously injured.

    Given that he was conscious when the friend arrived, his friend could easily be uncertain whether he was injured or just dazed.

  11. says

    I wouldn’t call it “The Most Amazing Video Ever Put on the Internet” (we’ve all seen OK Go’s videos, after all), but that’s still a hell of a thing.

  12. ray says

    related story and comments:

    “Mikey: You are most blessed to be spared more time to get to know the Creator. I am so grateful for His mercy extended to you and share your joy. How frightful this experience was, but it is a much more fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living god without hope of the provision He has made of a Savior, Jesus Christ. “From him and through him and to him are all things; to him be glory for ever and ever” (Rom. 11:36). He is the original skydiver: came from heaven; ascended back up. Now that’s a trip, and all believers will one day do likewise when He returns… what the Holy Bible refers to as the “rapture”. Sky diving in reverse! Wow! Would love for you to join us!

    – Leona Melchior, Alexandria, Louisiana, USA”

    “I wonder why you were given a second chance? There is life and then there is death. Before life, you don’t exist and after life you enter into life eternal – there is never complete death. You were given a chance most other people never get before they leave this one. I would seriously hope that if you are ever in this situation again that you will be ready and thinking of meeting God. All of us will meet him and either he will know us and welcome us into his kingdom or he will judge us and say that he never knew us and sentence us to hell. However, in reality it’s us that send ourselves to hell, not God. He loved us enough to die for us just to show us how much he really does love us. All you have to do is just ask God to show himself to you and he will. Try it and see. I wish you all the best brother, God bless you…

    – Dale Bennett, North Carolina”

    ^^^^ despicable

  13. David Livesay says

    The fact that the human body could take that much abuse and survive is proof that there must be a beneficent Creator who knew that we were going to invent airplanes, that we were going to jump out of them, and that occasionally our parachutes wouldn’t open.

    Oh, and He must have been intelligent enough to correctly compute the terminal velocity of a falling human body!


  14. says

    Yarg. I, too must concur with the fact that asking “are you ok?” is the correct action. I just took a first aid/CPR course, and Brian is absolutely correct. It’s also important so you can get an idea of where he is hurt in case he loses conciousness before the ambulance gets there.

    Also, I have nightmares of plane crashes and falling, so I should sleep REALLY well tonight. Thanks, PZ. At least I can spread the horror.

  15. Kellie says

    Hmm, this is exactly why I felt safer hang-gliding than skydiving (you have both the hang-glider AND a parachute)…

  16. Crudely Wrott says

    In reply to Carlies’ post #4: I suppose people differ in their reaction to watching their approaching death and some or many might display a wide variety of vocalizations and spastic thrashing. For what it’s worth I have found myself in more than one situation of maximum pucker power. Once, when a VW van turned in front of my rapidly accelerating motorcycle and I realized that the physics of the situation were simply beyond my influence, I passed a (subjectively) long time identifying the exact point on the van that I would impact. Right behind the driver’s window, in fact. This thought was not in the least disturbing though in retrospect I did seem to spend a lot of time considering it. As you can plainly see, I didn’t die. A couple of crucial factors changed and I was able to just barely avoid the collision. The rest of the day was a crash course in “knees like jelly.”

    I my case I can assume that my brain went into an overdrive mode processing information much faster than usual. Or my internal dialog went silent to allow full concentration on each passing millisecond. At no point did I feel like screaming or throwing my hands about in despair. Inasmuch as there are subtle differences in the myriad features and traits that constitute a human mind, I can understand that there must be a wide range of reactions to perceiving an impending personal doom. In the end I am just glad that I didn’t panic; I probably would have hit the van but have been embarrassingly off my mark.

  17. knobody says

    I my case I can assume that my brain went into an overdrive mode processing information much faster than usual.

    mine was a white pick-up truck instead of a van. the only thing i remember thinking was, “oh shit. i’m gonna hit him.”

    later, after attending to me, my friend who had been riding behind me managed to drag my bike out of the street. he then told me i had made it down to 2nd gear. so, while not thinking much in terms of words, apparently i did manage to think in terms of downshifting and braking to slow the force of impact. it must have worked. i’m still here.

    i don’t recall my friend asking if i was okay.

    p.s.a. always wear a helmet

  18. says

    You often hear these theories of brains going into overdrive, to explain the subjectively long time span spent contemplating what seems like impending doom. But I wonder if that isn’t just a reconstructed memory after the fact: After all you didn’t die but it seems like you should have, so you spend a lot of time going over the event in your head, filling in every little detail and, quite possibly, reconstructing quite a large bit of it in the process. It is my understanding from what I have read that our memories are not at all like a tape recorder. Rather, we essentially recreate the memory each time we bring it forward in our conscious mind, and more often than not store it back with an embellishment or two.