MONTEREY COUNTY (KPIX 5) - A terrifying near-death experience caught on video has prompted a Bay Area man to file suit against a Monterey County skydiving company.
Gerardo Flores claims that the parachute he rented from Skydive Monterey was in such bad shape that it opened prematurely. Flores was taking his 30th birthday jump when the chute opened at 13,000 feet, sending him into a tailspin.
"It just opened up," recalled Flores. "You never open above 6,000 feet."
He provided video of the 2012 "jump that could have killed him" for a KPIX 5 report last year.
After he hit the ground at what he said was 35-40 miles-per-hour, the video shows paramedics working on his unconscious body after the jump school called 911. He suffered head injuries and fractured ribs, requiring a medical airlift to the hospital. He would not regain consciousness for two weeks.
Skydivers are typically asked to sign waivers before skydiving, but this case focuses specifically on the equipment and whether the company did or should have known it was faulty.
An FAA report on his accident stated that some of his rented gear was worn "beyond serviceable limits."
Gear is normally checked by an FAA-certified rigger, who can be an employee of the company.
"I put my trust and life on the line trusting the school," said Flores, who had trained for two years with the company, "never again."
Minutes after our 2013 story aired, irate emails started pouring in from fellow skydivers, all blaming Flores, specifically because he jumped with a camera. On Flores' YouTube site, where he posts all his jumps, the comments were vicious:
"Enjoy your injuries you s*head, you deserve them," said one. "I am very disappointed that you are still alive," said another. And "You were rewarded with pain, stay out of my sky," said a third.
Skydive Monterey turned down a KPIX 5 request for an interview, but sent out a release saying his gear was in proper working order, and that the incident was caused by improper use by the jumper.
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