Abbey Lacy saw big trees below her and knew her parachute landing wasn’t going as planned.
The 29-year-old Omaha woman had just made her first solo jump from a skydiving plane Saturday afternoon near Weeping Water, Nebraska.
Lacy said that as she floated down she was in radio contact with a person on the ground who was giving her instructions on where to guide the parachute.
But she said the radio cut out, and she panicked. She said she used handles to put the “brakes” on the parachute, causing her to land on a tree, with the parachute cords becoming tangled in the branches.
She said she spent three hours in the tall tree as rescue crews worked to free her.
She was eventually rescued from her perch by the Plattsmouth, Nebraska, Fire Department, according to a report from the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. The report said she was “about 60 to 65 feet above the ground.”
A Plattsmouth firetruck extended its aerial ladder to rescue her, the report said.
Workers from the Omaha Public Power District were contacted and turned off overhead power lines that were preventing the rescue.
Fire Department personnel from Weeping Water, Manley, Murray and Avoca responded to the scene, as did the Cass County Emergency Management Agency.
Lacy said that when she first landed in the tree, she wrapped her arms and legs around a limb, but then they became numb. So she let go of the limb and and was hanging in the tree by the parachute cords attached to her harness.
She said it was terrifying to let go of the limb, because she wasn’t sure if the cords would hold her.
Lacy, who is a nurse at Methodist Hospital, said she was in good spirits during the first 90 minutes of her ordeal. Members of a local parachute club and rescue crews shouted encouragement to her and reassured her she was going to be fine, she said.
But she said she continued to feel numbness in her legs because the parachute harness was cutting off blood flow. She also said started to feel lightheaded and became scared as she felt the parachute cords slipping.
Two men on the aerial ladder freed her from the tree.
She was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center for treatment of bumps, bruises and cuts. She also said she has some nerve damage in her right leg, but doctors say it will heal.
So will she ever go skydiving again?
“Absolutely,” she said, “as soon as my legs will let me.”