Geoff Harris lost control during a skydive and was plummeting at more than 200kmh above Toogoolawah.
Geoff Harris lost control during a skydive and was plummeting at more than 200kmh above Toogoolawah. David Nielsen

Skydiver survives terrifying 4300-metre free-fall

A TERRIFYING skydiving incident left a Brisbane man lucky to be alive after freefalling 4300m after he was unable to open his parachute.

Unable to find the toggle for the parachute, Geoff Harris lost control and was plummeting at more than 200kmh above Toogoolawah.

"I was free falling and when it was time to deploy the chute I couldn't find the toggle," he said.

"I kept trying to reach for it and balance myself out, but I couldn't find it anywhere.

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"In an emergency situation like that you are meant to give up on trying to find the main toggle and go for your emergency chute, but by this stage I was out of control."

Luckily for the experienced skydiver, the automatic activation device kicked in at the last minute to open the emergency chute - ultimately saving his life.

"It was a huge jolt when the emergency parachute released but I still thought I was dead," Mr Harris said.

"I was sure that this was it for me.

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"Despite the emergency (chute) kicking in I still hit the ground with some force and smashed my head.

"I tried to stand up but I could feel my bones grinding together in my lower half."

Lying helplessly in a Toogoolawah paddock, Mr Harris was noticed by the property owner who quickly alerted emergency services with the Toowoomba- based RACQ CareFlight helicopter racing him to Toowoomba Hospital for emergency surgery.

"I had no idea where I was but knew my injuries were life-threatening," Mr Harris said.

"I remember hearing the CareFlight chopper approach and that was a lovely feeling of comfort."

Intensive care paramedic Peter Crooks was onboard the CareFlight helicopter. He said it was remarkable Mr Harris survived.

"We discovered Geoff had suffered a compound femur fracture, multiple breaks to his pelvis, three fractured vertebras and loss of sensation to his left side.

"It is a miracle he is alive."

By way of thanks Mr Harris donated a barbecue to the Toowoomba base of the RACQ CareFlight helicopter. He said he was very fortunate to still be here today.

"I was very, very lucky to not become a paraplegic or worse. The CareFlight crew and medical staff were incredible.

"Words do not describe how I feel about them and their efforts. They are lifesavers."



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