Johnson County man remains hospitalized after skydiving accident

By: Jordan Vilines Email
By: Jordan Vilines Email
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LUMBERTON, Miss. (WKYT) - Friends say he wanted to try something new while on vacation but a skydiving accident left an eastern Kentucky man in critical condition.

Last week, 26-year-old David Meek of Paintsville took a trip to the Mississippi coast where he decided to try something he'd never done before----skydiving.

“That’s something he wanted to do all week, David just wanted to go skydiving,” said Joey VanHoose, who is friends with David Meek.

But on Meek’s very first skydiving jump and first airplane ride, his summer vacation took an equally unexpected and tragic turn during a tandem jump with a veteran skydiver.

“The first parachute didn't work and then the second parachute didn't work. I would have never imagined that he had fallen nearly three miles out of the air,” VanHoose said.

The skydiving accident seriously injured Meek and killed the instructor, 56-year-old James Horak. According to friends on the scene, Horak and Meek were stranded for six hours after the crash.

“David jumped at 9:30 and no one even called for them until 1:30.”

Friends say Horak was still alive when they landed.

"That boy, that man he was with was alive. He didn't die on impact and my son crawled. That's the reason he wants to someday tell his story. My son even gave him CPR," said Meek's mother, Londa Sue Lafferty.

“David said he could hear the guy struggling so he went over to him with a broken back, broken jaw and a broken hand and tried to give the guy CPR.”

"His little bones…his organs. Just from his head down to his toes. I mean his little face is all broken and smashed in. You know, according to them, he's never going to walk again. It's awful," said Lafferty.

Family says, more than anything, they're just grateful he survived. They’ve now given him the nickname of David "The Miracle" Meek.

We’re told that James Horak served as a medic in the Special Forces and had more than 8,000 successful jumps to his credit.

Officials are not sure what went wrong, but say based on the ground evidence, Horak cut away the main parachute and tried to use his backup.

"I will tell you that the instructor, a highly trained professional, thousands of jumps, tandem instructor, pilot, accelerated free fall instructor, has been in the sport for many many years," Gold Coast Skydivers owner Leanne Igo said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will determine if the parachutes were properly rigged and if the parachute operation was in compliance with federal regulations

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