North Texas teen who survived skydiving accident returns to school




Posted on April 1, 2014 at 7:55 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 1 at 9:15 AM

JOSHUA, Texas -- The 16-year-old girl who was severely injured in a January skydiving accident returned to school Monday.

As a show of support, her classmates at Joshua High School wore pink shirts with the words "Makenzie Strong" on them, honoring Makenzie Wethington.

"Everybody is just so excited to see her, to hear about her story," junior Emma Strop said. "She looks amazing. You cannot tell that she fell out of the sky."

Wethington went skydiving with her father in January and suffered serious injuries in a 3,500-foot fall to the ground. Her parachute malfunctioned during the jump and didn't open properly.

She suffered serious internal injuries and broken bones, including internal bleeding, broken vertebrae, and a shattered pelvis. Doctors told the media that they didn’t understand how she survived the fall.

Her grandmother told News 8 Makenzie has a long road ahead, but she has made remarkable progress.

"To go from a doctor saying she might not live to her going back to school is amazing," Bea Abbott said.

Now, Abbott spends most days with her granddaughter driving her to and from physical therapy appointments, which have consumed Makenzie’s life.

"She's still a strong-willed person. This will not put a damper on what she plans do with her life," Abbott said. "I think that she will go forward; she's trying to live her life and live her dreams."

For now, Makenzie is going to school half-days to see how things progress. She continues therapy to regain strength.

On Mar. 11, the U.S. Parachute Association raised the minimum age for first-time skydivers to 18, replacing a provision that allowed younger teens to jump with parental consent.

A spokeswoman previously said the change was not prompted by what happened to Makenzie, but was something they had been “struggling with the past couple of years.” The change goes into effect May 1.