Washington jumper Nico Inzerella is someone we have worked with in the fall for the past couple of years, supporting the film festival he’s been putting on for jumpers in the Seattle area. We were a little surprised not to hear from him this fall, but there turned out to be a very good reason behind that!
Nico graciously agreed to share his story with our readers.
Setting the stage: It was the first jump/load of the day at Skyfest Boogie. It is a memorial event, meant to celebrate the 10 Seattle area skydivers who passed in a plane crash in 2007 (click here for some history). Most of those jumpers were from Skydive Snohomish, on their way back home from an event. The 2014 Skyfest Boogie was held at Skydive Chelan (Eastern WA) the weekend of October 3rd. I had misplaced my reserve packing data card and was running around making phone calls to get the documents sorted out. In my haste, I did not do a thorough safety check and forgot to reset my audible. I really should have not been swooping on this load. I am used to a left-hand pattern, Chelan uses a right-hand one. I normally jump at Skydive Snohomish at 350 feet above sea level, Chelan is around 1200. This was my first time landing in the swoop area at Chelan. Right there are 3 red flags, and in hindsight, I should have slowed down.
The jump: I did a really nice angle jump with some friends. Under canopy, the plan was to follow my friend in, doing a 90 degree turn. We are both in the early stages of learning high performance landings. This is where things get a little hazy. All I remember is pulling my front risers down, then stabbing my brakes – and waking up in the ICU at Harborview Hospital in Seattle.
I had been transported in a helicopter to Wenatchee, WA but my injuries were too severe to treat there, so I was flown on to Seattle. I do remember joking around with the pilot of the plane and him saying “nope, you can’t jump from this one!” and then giving a nice, hardy chuckle. I spent 8 days at Harborview and then went on to a rehab facility. I have just been released to go home to continue my recovery there.
Injuries: Shattered pelvic ring, shattered hip socket which lead to a dislocated femur. I also broke a bunch of little bones in my pelvic area as well as severely bruising my sciatic nerve. I was supposed to be in a wheelchair for 4 weeks, but moved on to crutches about a week ago. The nerve pain is intense and every day the doctors are working to adjust my meds to keep the pain under control.
I have been in our home in North Seattle since last Friday and now return to my work as the web master/UI UX Designer at the North Seattle College as I can. I start outpatient physical therapy in a couple of days. I am also looking into acupuncture and naturopathy to compliment my current treatments and to and manage pain. Once I am able to do yoga, I plan to establish a daily practice to regain strength and flexibility. And shortly, my wife is due with our baby, so lots of changes ahead!
I am incredibly thankful for a huge support group of skydivers, families and friends.
I should be dead, paralyzed or brain-dead. My spine is untouched. I hit my head hard enough to chatter my sunglasses under my G3 – but all systems are well in the head area. This day, I definitely had 10 guardian angels looking out for me. Thanks for listening to my story!
If you would like to deposit a few bucks in the karma bank, help Nico and family out at the fundraising site that friends have set up: http://www.gofundme.com/fpivwk
Skyfest 2013 video: