The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

February 7, 2014

Globetrotter swaps stories with skydiving victim

DALLAS, Texas — Harlem Globetrotters star Bull Bullard granted the wish of Makenzie Wethington, the 16-year old who survived a skydiving accident Jan. 25 at a Chickasha skydiving school when her parachute didn’t fully open.

Globetrotters coming to Enid

While rehabbing at Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas, where she arrived last week, Wethington’s family posted on social media about her disappointment over missing the Globetrotters game in Dallas, that was held Saturday, because of her injuries.

She wished to meet the team. Bull rescheduled a flight on Wednesday, Feb. 5, and spent time with Wethington and her family. Wethington, who is walking and back spinning basketballs, traded stories and tricks with Bull.

Bull had his own scare recently when a hoop crashed on him in Honduras. Video here

Wethington, who plummeted more than 3,000 feet to the ground, walked with assistance Monday and is expected to fully recover, her doctor said Monday.

Dr. Seema R. Sikka with the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation in Dallas said she likely will be hospitalized for a few more weeks.

"She is doing well. She's had multiple traumas but actually has been staying in good spirits," said Sikka, who added that the hospital was still evaluating her injuries, which include damage to her liver and a broken pelvis, lumbar spine in her lower back, shoulder blame, several ribs and teeth.

The teenager's parents attended Monday's news conference but Wethington did not.

Her parents agreed to allow her to skydive as a 16th birthday present, and her father jumped ahead of her. When the teen from Joshua jumped, her canopy opened but with a malfunction that she was unable to correct, and she did not deploy a reserve parachute as she had been taught to do. Her father, Joe, has said she told him she blacked out as she plummeted to the ground. She landed on grass.

Sikka said that Wethington will work on tasks like being able to get out of bed, brush her teeth and get dressed.

"From what we are seeing now, we expect and hope for a full recovery," Sikka said.

The girl's mother, Holly, said her daughter was in good spirits and had lots of visitors over the weekend. "She is ready and eager to get well," she said.

She said that the damage to her daughter's teeth has made it hard for the teen to talk.

Her parents said that they did not have insurance, but Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation executive Jon Skinner said they qualified for a charity program that would cover her treatment there.

Scroll down for Globetrotters' video

Source: Information included in this story came from an email from Harlem Globetrotters International, Inc.

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