UPDATE: Johnson Co. man returns home two months after skydiving accident

By: Hillary Thornton, Jordan Villines, Whitney Burks Email
By: Hillary Thornton, Jordan Villines, Whitney Burks Email
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STAMBAUGH, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 10/6/13

When 26-year-old, David Meek, left for vacation in Mississippi he never imagined it would be more than two months before he returned home to Johnson County...especially in a wheelchair. This weekend Meek finally made it home after spending weeks at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington, and now has hope that he will walk again.

It has been a long road home Meek after suffering serious injuries in a skydiving accident back in August.

Meek remembers, "I woke up on the ground...my arm broken in three places, elbow out of the skin, ribs crushed, spine crushed, my face crushed, my lip split. I mean I had so much wrong with me I shouldn't be here."

Meek fell more than three miles but now he sits inside his living room with his family...a place he says he was not sure he would ever return.

"They said don't look forward to it, they kept saying there is a chance I'm not going to make it, but God has got plans for me and I feel it," says Meek.

David "The Miracle" Meek as he is now known, says he finds hope with each and every movement he makes.

"Every day it is like I'm getting stronger and every other week I'm doing something new. I went from wiggling them (legs) to lifting them, to just recently now I can bend them a bit," says Meek.

He says those movements are the result of hard work at Cardinal Hill, "Some days are harder than others, but I really don't want to stay this way so I just keep trying and trying."

Meek says he was about out of fuel but being able to wheel down the halls of his home instead of hospital hallways has rejuvinated him to push forward towards his goal.

"God has worked a lot of wonders for me and I believe it is the will that I will walk again one day...I do believe that," says Meek.

Now with his family and friends by his side, Meek says nothing can keep him down.

"I won't let anything stop me. I will sit there and pull myself up to any mountain it is. As long as I get there, that's all that matters and I'll pray about it until I get there," explains Meek.

Meek will continue therapy at home for about a month and then will return to Cardinal Hill for stage two of his rehab.
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UPDATE 9/5/13

An eastern Kentucky man critically injured last month in a skydiving accident in Mississippi is now back in the bluegrass recovering.

The Paintsville native talked to us on Thursday for the first time from Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington where he's now recovering.

For 26-year-old David Meek, a quick stroll down the hospital hallway is a start.

“Today is the first day I’m in a wheelchair and I got to move around. I got to feel the sun on my cheeks and it’s a big step today,” David Meek told us Thursday.

Thursday was a big step for the man who fell more than three miles to the ground and lived to tell the tale. Last month, Meek was involved in a tragic skydiving accident off the Mississippi Coast.

“I remember falling through the clouds and it was beautiful and fun and then all of the sudden a nightmare happens. I hit the ground so hard I made a hole in the ground about three feet wide and four feet deep. I had mud and dirt all over me and I had to dig myself out because it was smothering me.”

Despite suffering extensive injuries, Meek says he was mostly worried about his instructor who was strapped onto him, 56-year-old James Horak.

“I ended up breaking my ribs, both my jaws, and my chin and paralyzing myself. The guy who jumped with me died and I laid there with him for five hours after.”

Meek says if they would've been stuck any longer, he would've lost his life as well. “If it was 15 to 30 minutes later I probably wouldn’t be here.”

But the fact that he is here, the fact that he survived, has earned him the nickname David "The Miracle" Meek.

He now hopes that his ability to turn adversity into accomplishments will serve as an inspiration to others.

“I hope something like this will inspire someone to do better in their life rather than waiting until the last minute like I did.”
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UPDATE 8/8/13

They say he was fulfilling a lifelong dream, but it left him with life threatening injuries.

David Meek was tandem skydiving at Gold Coast Skydivers in Lumberton, Mississippi, when something went wrong, and he and the instructor fell nearly 15,000 feet killing the instructor and badly injuring Meek.

They spent the week in Biloxi, Mississippi, and they only had one stop left.

Meek's dream was to skydive.

"We thought it was fool proof, cut and dry, carnival ride and we'd be back on the road in 45 minutes," said Joey VanHoose.

VanHoose was on the ground waiting for his friend to return from his jump, but Meek never showed up.

"The videographer came over and he said, "Your buddy mislanded. He should be out in a few minutes.' I said 'what's mislanded?' He said 'Oh he just landed in a field over there.' I never dreamed that he had fallen nearly three miles out of the air," said VanHoose.

The parachutes malfunctioned, and Meek and his instructor fell nearly 15,000 feet lost in a marshy hunting ground.

"He was talking to him telling him, 'Breathe through your nose. Breathe through your nose,' and David tried giving him CPR, and the guy died attached to David," said VanHoose.

Meek laid in the forest for nearly six hours with breaks in his back, face, and arm attached to the body of his instructor, James Horak, Jr.

"He could see the jumpers constantly coming over top of him. He could hear them laughing and hollering, and nobody was helping David," said VanHoose.

Once found he was flown to a hospital in Hattiesburg, and as traumatic as the experience was his friends and family call him lucky and have nicknamed him 'The Miracle'.

"David's a miracle. God's got a plan for David," said VanHoose.

Meek is still in critical condition in Mississippi.

Doctors say it is unlikely he will walk again.

A fund in his honor is set up at City National Bank.

You can send donations to the 'David The Miracle Meek' fund at any branch.

The accident is under investigation.

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ORIGINAL STORY 8/5/13

A Johnson County man is recovering, seriously injured in a skydiving accident in Mississippi.

David Meek's friends say it was his last day of vacation in Mississippi when he went skydiving, but something went terribly wrong.

Meek was tandem skydiving with instructor, 56-year-old James "Jimmie" Horak, Jr., in Lumberton, Mississippi, but they never landed as expected.

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.

They fell nearly 15,000 feet.

The fall killed Horak and left Meek with several injuries including fractures in his back, face and arm.

"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

Meek's friends say they searched for nearly six hours before he was found still tethered to Horak's body.

Horak's body was taken for an autopsy.

At last check Meek's friends and family say he was back on life support in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.


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