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Features

Alive after two mile fall

By Ryan Morrison
Jersey skydiver Michael Holmes survived a two mile fall in New Zealand after his parachute failed.

Skydive Freefall (filmed by James Boole)
Skydive Freefall (filmed by James Boole)

Jersey's Michael Holmes was skydiving in New Zealand when his parachute failed and he found himself heading for the ground at 120mph on Tuesday 12 December.

During what would have been a relatively routine jump for a man who's been doing this for seven years, and was the youngest British person ever to qualify as a skydiving instructor, the parachute failed.

Michael's father told us that the main parachute became tangled, which then caused problems for the reserve parachute. He explained what happened:

"Half of the parachute collapsed. The parachute is attached to a container on the skydivers back with a load of lines and they became tangled.

Michael Holmes (filmed by James Boole)
Michael Holmes (filmed by James Boole)

"The tangle went right back down to the container with the result that he couldn't release the pain chute, what they call, cut away the main chute.

"Nor could he deploy the reserve and the reserve couldn't deploy itself either because of the tangle."

Blackberry Bush

However, despite falling 12,000ft Michael survived. He fell into a blackberry bush at around 100 mph and suffered a punctured lung and broken ankle.

Michael was found unconscious by police in a blackberry bush in a conservation area in Five Mile Bay in Taupo on New Zealand's North Island.

A Taupo Fire Brigade spokesman said "Mr Holmes had fallen into dense bushes and the brigade had been called to slash a path through to free him"

Michael Holmes snr told us "It's a one in a million chance it could happen and he was very fortunate he survived."

He was asked how his son felt about falling and told us "Michael is Michael and he will bounce back from it and will be skydiving again in a months time".

Eyewitness John Siddles told New Zealand's Daily Post "One of the skydivers was coming down and going round and round. He looked like he was all tangled up or something. He just came down, straight down".

The accident is being investigated by the New Zealand Parachute Industry Association.

Watch the helmet camera video (Mail on Sunday)... >
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites
last updated: 13/02/07
 
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NZ phile
Jumped with this guy a year after the event, amazing that he's back doing it. Thankfully this jump was amazingly beautiful but somewhat less eventful.

Ian
Obviously this is a miracle and the work of Zeus, the most powerful and almighty god.

Roselinde Reijnders
I'ts a wonder he survived

Wardygirl
my class watched the video when i was off sick how shan :(

italian skydiver
no more luky! god love you

Cana-Balistic
Evans, a 6 story fall useually results in hitting a concrete sidewalk or compact dirt. Natural bush and soft ground are what saved his life. Its no miracle, hundreds of people have survived landings in much the same way. His half colapsed parachute slowed his decent aswell. Please dont bring god into this, it was clearly the work of the devil.

CYNTHIA
well in my school my class is wanting you to showw us how to surve

rolando linares
you must have some mision in this world god blessyou think about it

Emma
lighten up. Everyone is only laughing about this because they're so astounded that he's alive.

Evans
Bush diving? seriously, how shallow can you people be? most of you wont even survive a 6 storey fall, let alone bush dive? The comments some of you have left are shocking, and just blatantly shows that you people have no depth to your thinking. A miracle has happened that has never occurred before. And if God were reading this page, he would sure as hell be disappointed in you as human beings!

Sphinx
This could very well be the birth of a new type of skydiving. "bush-diving" just imagine the possibilities! no more wasted money on parachutes and a lot more adrenaline.

Fanny granger
i am so happy you are alive and would love to meet you some day you are my idol!!

Ignacio Jimenez Elizalde
As a veteran pilot myself I was amazed at how long it takes to free fall that distance. Long time to think in!

Thomas Thomopoulos
I've seen the footage on TV. It is a miracle that Michael came out of this alive. Many wishes from many people from Greece for fast recovery.

JH
well done m8 4 surving a fall like that. maybe i should plant a blackberry bush in my garden!!!!

snez
michael r u okay that was some crazy **** u pulled off u should do that as a living

Angelika Kampa.Athens+greece Hellas
It was and still is a real miracle that you Michael Holmes... you are still alive after that 2mile fall!!!!Thank God for that and your special protector,Angel Michael who always protects pilots and flying men!!!GOD BLESS YOU MICHAEL!!!TAKE CARE,I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST+..... **********ANGELIKA,*** CHRISTIAN ORTHODOX FROM GREECE,ATHENS,HELLAS. --***--- PS..YOU ARE ALL WELCOME IN GREECE=HELLAS.+.

FreeflyPoulet
Obviously, Some of you are not skydivers. This is the worst thing that can happen to one of us. A malfunction! A lot of us who have been in the sport for a while have had mals! I hope that Michael gets back in the air after he recuperates. Blue Skies and Safe swoops!

DC
refering to cory post. how could you say that? the man could of lost his life if he had been a few feet further to any side! wat with tree stumps and concrete. next please think about what you are saying before you go and upset any one else

Dan B. Graves
And in thy book they were all written the days that were ordained for me before there was one of them. When God wants you dead you are dead and when God wants you alive you are alive.

rachel from london
you were my cameraman last Dec, you are a star! Invincible!!!!

Dan
Thats what happens when you play "I'm falling and I can't stop!"

OFOY
Michael - being an old friend of yours, I was shocked to hear the news and see the footage. We've not spoken for a few years but glad you're still with us!! All the best buddy.

AC
Micheal play the lottery!!!you are so lucky. Good luck for the future.

Lola
The Mail on Sunday has an online video of the fall.

Brick
Dude: Have you been sleeping during your instruction? The ripcord merely keeps the container closed, and upon pulling it a pilot chute on a spring will deploy. These are pure hell to fold back into the container, because the spring needs to be tight. Which is why you'll be happy to graduate to throwaway pilots when you are sufficiently advanced. You said you did AFF, so that means you probably do not mean a Static Line (a"ripcord" which is attached to the plane) unless you really know "peepee" yourself.

Dennis
to Sue: That's bollocks

Falden
A young soldier was making his first parachute jump. The corporal explained the procedure You count to ten and pull the first ripcord. If the chute doesn't open, pull the second. That should do it. Then, after you land, there'll be a truck waiting to pick you up. The soldier checked his gear, called out the customary Geronimo! and jumped out of the plane. He counted to ten and pulled the ripcord. The chute failed to open. He pulled the second ripcord and the chute still didn't open. As he plummeted downward, he said, I'll bet that blamed truck won't be there either!

uk skydiver
“WOW! Those blackberries on that lifesaving bush must have been massive!” This report is so out of touch with the true facts of the incident; and is totally focused on the dramatisation of the whole situation. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT! For a start he was found by his mate, who was with him during the actual jump and he wasn’t unconscious! "Blueskies!" Michael

Ted Murphy
A bit more jounalistic rigour please, with a half inflated canopy, he could not possibly reach those speeds.

Danny L
My mum said she found me under a blackberry bush they are very usefull!! haha I skydive and I say you're lucky!! Hopefully it mkes everyone a little more safety concious! I know you said it just didn't work but accidents still make people more aware of the potential consequences. Good luck for the future and appreciate your life even more now!!

imabeanme
We're not talking about NEW JERSEY, he's from the original JERSEY in the British Channel Islands where New Jersey got its name from.

Philip D
Saw it on German TV news last night. Phew!. Has anyone found an online link to the video?

ladyskydiver
What seems to have happened here (see dropzone.com) is that main parachute got a line group tangled on container (the parachutist's 'backpack'). This meant that he couldn't get rid of the malfunctioning main, and when he deployed his reserve canopy into this mess, the two parachutes entangled. This is in "technical terms" called a "ball of crap" and is what we call a "high speed malfunction". It slowed down his descent somewhat, and the force of the impact was also lessened by the blackberry bushes.

Landing under an entanglement such as this is easily comparable to landing with nothing out and it's really surprising that he survived this at all.

It's not so badly reported after all, but could use a spell check.

It's still under investigation, and I'm sure there will be an official report on this.

I do hope this clears things up somewhat and I'd also like to say that such malfunctions as this are extremely rare.

lloyd
well done for survuivg jolly well done

Lee
God bless you. Luckily the bush life savor helps.

Mickey Flyer
All I know is that the video of this thing is viscious and sick. When the second guy comes to him to see if he is alright, he was in a big blackberry bush, looks like he is 5 feet under the bushes. The whole time you are thinking he is heading toward the water, but keeps drifting towards land and then the bushes. His partner landed within 10 feet and asked him if he was alright. He might have lost consciousness by the time the brigade got there, but was coherent enough to answer "no." This was the most sickening video I have ever watched. I am glad that he is ok.

DmT
Hey that is awesome he lived..i think the people who say " it was really open" or whatever are silly. i think they're just mad hes getting attention and they're not..i saw the tape and even if one half was open...he was heading down wickedly fast and no matter what they say...thats amazing to come out alive..

Frederick S
What brand of parachute was it? I need one of those for someone I really care about...

Angie
Rowly did you see this? I saw him on the Today Show this AM and he is either an Aussie or from New Zealand. I have no idea where the NJ part comes in to play.

nautiq
wheres the video - I wanna see that!!!

ade
there is no way he could have came in at 100 mph and survived it, if he had end cell closier witch is what it sounds likehe would hav been spinning fast but falling at a much slower speed. Skydivng is not the dangerous sport the meadia tries to portray it as but they do all like and exiting fictional story!

Sue
To Lowri: I saw the footage filmed from both helmet mounted camras - the reserve did not open. The skydive company would have to say the reserve opened. To say otherwise would be bad for business.

(a not-supid american) hey coffey
york is a city in england (and Pennsylvania) new york is a city & state in the USA Jersey is an island near England new jersey is s state in USA "jersey" is a northeastern US colloquialism that you can safely assume is NOT what people are talking about when mentionin the word in international articles. Apparently you flunked the geography lesson that you offered to zaccarelli

Esd
"nobody survives landing without a parachute open. nobody.." Tell that to the guy who landed in a snowdrift in WW2...

Tammy
I was the person that he was filming when his shute failed to open! The speed at which he fell, I'm amazed he survived!

Karnagekrew.com
Good stuff Mikey, come on get back to it, the weather aint going to wait for you and the swoop comps coming up

James
glad to hear that loser luke had a soft bounce ;)

Lowri
I recently did a skydive with Taupo Tandem Skydive company, who informed me that Michael's second parachute did open. He did however, drift off course, which caused him to land in the blackberry bush. The people at Taupo Tandem Skydive Centre told us that there is no way that anyway could survive a 1,200ft freefall - it is impossible. It's a shame a story like this had to be whipped into lies by the press. Get your information right.

Astonishing
Go Michael!

Real skydiver
It seems michael returned to earth with both his parachutes out, and although neither were fully developed, they reduced his speed to a fraction of the 120mph the press seem to love to report this as. I will say that landing in a blackberry bush will have shaved off the last few more precious miles per hour that saved his life and from a wheelchair. a few others have not been so lucky in the past decade nobody survives landing without a parachute open. nobody..

dude
rigs have ripcords. I started on one. the military usually doesn't use pilot chutes, They use ripcords. The drop zone I went through AFF (skydive wasilla, AK) would charge students 25 dollars for losing the handle. SKydiver you know peepee.

Cory
im going to make a sport of this, call it bush blasting, yeah, can wear a big pillow suit and land in black berry bushes. who's with me?

Not lucky.
How can you call someone who's parachute failed lucky?

Haha
I dare you to do it again!

Yet Another Skydiver
Honestly, it wouldn't take a lot to at least get your terminology right. Doing a professional job of reporting should be of utmost priority. While skydiving revolves around a very small community worldwide, it's almost an insult to those of us who are members of that community when a story is published world wide with very basic mistakes in the information. Please take 10 minutes on the internet to do a little research before publishing, please. That being said....thank God, it wasn't this man's day to die! We're all glad to hear he's alright.

Wow
You guys are all stupid! The poor guy fell from almost 2 miles and survived and all you care about is the technical info thats wrong!!!!!!?????? wow

American Dreamer
I look forward to viewing the film from his helmet cam.It will give me insight into my worst dreams.

Guy
Jersey is part of Britain

Travis
HIs parachute did not fail. Come on.

Jersey guy
Jersey is an island in the channel islands, it's just south of england, and not New Jersey which I assume is what you are thinking of.

the coffey
hani zaccarelli...york;new york. jersey; new jersey. you don't need to hear an accent. just take a geography course. lol

maxim
EXTREME!!!!!

Aaron Benoit
Have you ever thought about doing a Ribena advert now? How big was the blackberry bush???

Vi A
That was wild!!

The Duke.
Umm, a lot of gear currently in use uses a ripcord to deploy the main canopy. Its unlikely he had one on his sport kit but who cares really? most non jumpers probably think of ripcords not pilot chutes anyway.

Another skydiver
"pulling the cord on your parachute and then having it not open" "Half of the parachute collapsed" So it did open then? ...

Sqn Leader C Gull
Especially as a “chord” is a musical note. BBC English and research as top notch as always.

Skydiver
No such thing as pulling your "chord" to open your parachute. You pull a handle that is either tube, ball or pillow shaped. That handle is attached to a small round parachute which then pulls out the main parachute. At least get your technical facts straight and do not just copy others :-(

hani zaccarelli
If he's from Jersey does that make him British? I would need to hear his accent.

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