Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 2 September 2009 11:10 UK

Skydiver's survival 'incredible'


Paul Lewis filmed the moment his parachutes became tangled during a 10,000ft jump.

A skydiver whose parachutes failed to open properly during a 10,000ft (3050m) freefall in Shropshire said it was "incredible" he survived.

Paul Lewis, 40, crashed on to a warehouse roof near Tilstock Airfield in Whitchurch, while filming for the Parachute Centre on 14 August.

He suffered neck and shoulder injuries but is expected to recover fully.

"It's incredible to be honest with you - the fact that I broke no bones on that landing," he said.

He had attempted to deploy his main parachute about 40 seconds after jumping from the aircraft.

Paralysis risk

But when it failed to open properly he released it and deployed his reserve, only to encounter the same problem.

Paul Lewis
Paul Lewis said he will stick to flying aircraft

Mr Lewis said both chutes opened but suffered twists, which he said was "unheard of".

He believes a string of circumstances helped save his life, including the wind speed and direction and landing on a flexible section of roof.

Mr Lewis, who was working as a freelance cameraman for the centre, added: "The fact that I'm still here is even more incredible.

"What I have just been through was pretty much unsurvivable."

He was rescued from the roof by firefighters using specialist equipment.

Mr Lewis, who was filming tandem jumps, has film footage of the fall and his landing.

'Chance of paralysis'

Watching the film, he traced the moment when his main parachute failed to open properly, which led to him decide to use the reserve chute, which also became twisted.

He said: "Now I'm getting low, the reserve's over my head. I'm about to impact the hangar within about five seconds, I would have thought."

Warehouse where parachutist landed
Mr Lewis's fall was broken by landing on a warehouse

He said the wind and his body weight contributed to the fast descent which left him unconscious on the roof.

Mr Lewis said he suffered a dislocated shoulder and his spinal cord was pushed slightly out of place. He was operated on and told he should fully recover within three months.

He said: "There was a chance of paralysis after the op. But like any surgeon does, he did a superb job realigning my neck."

Mr Lewis is keen to return to his job with Network Rail in Shrewsbury where he has been told he can do lighter duties if necessary.

He added he would not be doing anymore parachute jumps and instead will fly the aircraft taking other jumpers.

Mr Lewis, who has had a pilot's licence for more than 20 years, added: "I'm going to break myself into it very gently, because looking down on the planet is going to feel strange.

"But I've got an engine to get me down this time, not a canopy."

Mr Lewis said his attitude to life had become more relaxed since his lucky escape.

He said: "I had somebody come up to me two days ago who owed me £15.

"And normally I'd have taken it off him but I said 'Bob put it in your pocket.

It's just such a small thing to me now. I'm just glad to be here - keep it.'"

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