GoPro cameras have become the bread and butter for adrenaline junkies to show the world what they’re capable of (and what most of us probably shouldn’t attempt). Inevitably, the little go-anywhere cameras have caught footage of things gone terribly wrong, as is the case in a recent skydiving accident. Skydiver Sebastian Leal was 12,000 feet above the city of Zephyrhills, Florida, when he crashed into another diver. Both men were seriously injured, and Leal was left partially paralyzed. Leal’s GoPro kept running through the collision and impact with the ground below.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Leal fractured four vertebrae when he hit some power lines on his way down. Luckily, his parachute automatically deployed at 750 feet. This was his 402nd jump and took place with Skydive City. This wasn’t a traditional dive, as Leal was wearing a wingsuit. This gear has become popular in the past decade or so, and allows divers to travel farther and faster, and with more freedom than with a regular chute. Leal has used the suit before, posting photos on his social media accounts depicting himself performing acrobatics alongside other divers.
Leal, a 23-year-old who hails from Mexico, has been skydiving since he was 19. He did not have a bad feeling that day, and the weather and exit from the plane were optimal. He was supposed to be the center of a formation with four other jumpers. Donning a bright green wingsuit, Leal collided with the red-suited Carson Harty five seconds after leaving the plane.
“It’s a very rare, freak accident,” Leal said. “I don’t want people to be discouraged. I want them to be inspired to go skydiving.”
Leal landed about four miles outside the drop zone, where a retired firefighter found him and called 911. He was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital, and the latest reports show he still can’t feel his legs. (Harty, who sustained head injuries, has been released.) Leal is determined to make a full recovery and return to the sport he loves.
Incidentally, another video was recently uploaded to Reddit showing planes colliding in midair. This has caused some confusion with Leal’s incident, but it was actually a clip from 2013 (miraculously, everyone survived that incident as well). We have seen this before — a video goes viral, a similar one is shared around the same time (intentionally or otherwise) and the two get mixed up. It’s nice to have information and updates travel so fast, but not at the expense of accuracy.