Jordan Hatmaker was mid-air and halfway through her skydiving license training when her parachute malfunctioned. The pilot chute, a smaller parachute that pulls out the main canopy, wrapped around her leg. She plummeted toward the ground at 125 mph with nothing to slow her down.
Now in strategy mode, Jordan tried to free herself from the lines. Suddenly her reserve parachute fired, causing the main canopy to catapult out of its bag. This caused a downplane, which occurs when two parachutes are inflated simultaneously and both fly towards the ground. The descent rate of a downplane is very high, and landing one usually results in severe injuries or death.
When Jordan hit the ground, she couldn’t feel anything below her waist. She was life-flighted to the closest Level 1 Trauma Center, where she was diagnosed with multiple injuries, including a spinal cord injury. During her 25-day hospital stay, Jordan encountered many physical and emotional challenges.
“I wondered what life would look like after this,” Jordan said. “I was on an emotional rollercoaster, but I tried to find the light in every dark moment. Some days were harder than others, but I counted every first as a milestone.”
Jordan focused on each recovery breakthrough as they came, like sitting up without getting dizzy, transferring to a bedside commode for the first time, using a wheelchair, leaving her hospital room, and standing up with the support of a walker. She was determined not just to walk again, but to progress faster than her doctors projected and to literally climb mountains (a hike to Everest Base Camp is planned this fall). She attributes faith, hard work, and the power of positive thinking to her recovery.
When Jordan is in pain, she reminds herself of how much she has overcome and what she has achieved to keep herself motivated and encouraged and notes that the emotional recovery has been as real as the physical one. Jordan is passionate about community and connecting with others to share stories, heartaches, and victories. Follow her journey on Instagram at @ohchutejordan.
Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you!