North Texas Teen Marks One Year Since Skydiving Accident

This time last year, it wasn't clear Makenzie Wethington was going to live.

The North Texas teen was laying in a hospital bed after plummeting 3,000 feet in a skydiving accident, breaking teeth, ribs and parts of her back in the fall.

"And now I’m here a year later,” the North Texas teen said Monday.

Wethington, a junior at Joshua High School, survived falling to the ground when her parachute ropes became tangled and she reportedly blacked out. The teen and her father had traveled to Chickasha, Oklahoma, for the skydiving trip that was her 16th birthday present.

Paramedics rushed Wethington to an Oklahoma City trauma center where she spent nearly a week under the constant care of trauma doctors and nurses. The teen suffered fractures to her spine, hip, pelvis and ribs in addition to internal injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.

“I don’t even remember being in Oklahoma, in the hospital,” Wethington said about the six days she spent in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

After her prognosis improved, the medical team transferred Wethington to Dallas and the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation.

“It was painful to walk [during the physical rehabilitation] because I had a broken scapula and clavicle and I couldn’t put weight on my legs, so I was having to put it all on my upper body,” Wethington said about her daily routine using a walker. “But I was determined because I did not want to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.”

Wethington spent approximately two weeks in in-patient rehab, before she was allowed to go home in mid-February 2014.

Since then, she has been walking on her own, with the pain dissipating almost every day. Wethington told NBC 5 she still suffers from near-daily migraines and has some issues with short-term memory loss. However, Wethington said her doctors believe both issues will improve over time.

On Sunday, the one-year anniversary of her mishap, Wethington traveled back to Oklahoma to meet with the Chickasha paramedics who were the first ones on the scene of her accident.

“I just really wanted to see who helped save my life,” Wethington said. “And I just wanted to see who did it so I could emotionally relate to them and thank them.”

A photograph Wethington shared via Facebook shows her and one of the paramedics – the one who intubated her en route to the medical helicopter – embracing one another in a hug.

“Meeting them was just the best day of my life. He was very, very kind,” Wethington said about the encounter.

Despite her ordeal, Wethington said she still makes straight As, is in the top 10 of her class and hopes to become a trauma surgeon one day – like the men and women who worked so hard to save her.

As for another skydiving trip, Wethington said she would not rule one out. She plans to wait until much later, however, after she’s lived a long and full life.

“Like when I’m 95, maybe,” she said with a laugh.

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