The Adventurer in All of Us

At some point in our lives, something comes along that catches our eye and draws us off on a trail of adventure.  It may be something like hiking across the country, taking up surfing or as simple as riding a zip line.  Some of these activities are quite safe, while others involve personal risk.  I know that I’ve experienced a few risky endeavors in my life, and I’ve been fortunate to live to see another day.  The older I got and the more responsibilities I took on caused me to scale back on the risk I was willing to take.  I will say though that there was a lag time in the common sense aspect of my decision to be cautious.  We can probably chalk that up to me being a guy.  🙂

That brings me around to an unfortunate indecent that happened by us on November 17.  We were hanging out with our friends Linda, Jerry and Ron, discussing some landscaping that Linda and Jerry were going to be doing at their new mobile home they had bought last year.  As we were talking, a powered parachute flew over us a few hundred feet up.

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We see these craft flying up and down the beach all the time.  On one hand, they look to be great fun.  Ron even mentioned how much fun it be would to give one a whirl.  On the flip side, they appear to be somewhat dangerous.  The whole thing is nothing more than a parachute, motor, propeller, tank of gas and a pilot.  This particular evening saw a steady breeze coming in off the ocean, and the pilot seemed to be struggling with controlling the craft.  The throttle was up and down, causing us to wonder if he was having engine trouble.  And breaking from what we normally see, he was flying inland over residential areas quite a ways, instead of staying out over the beach.  Before long, we heard the engine slow down and we watched the paraglider descend  towards the county beach park to our north.  Next thing we heard was the sickening sound of electricity arcing, similar to when a transformer on a power pole explodes.  We could see the sparks flying from a 1/4 mile away.  There is a line of power poles extending along A1A that are a good 30 to 50 feet in the air, and we could see the fabric from the chute draped over the lines.  Diana, Ron and I jumped on Ron’s golf cart and Jerry and Linda jumped on theirs and headed over to see what had happened.

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From what we were told, the pilot cleared the wires, only to have the breeze blow him back into them.  His gas tank caught on fire at some point and he fell 30 feet to the ground…landing next to the bike path.  The young man with the grey shirt in the photo above stopped and smothered the flames with the only thing he had available; his truck mat.  Fortunately, there is a Brevard County Fire and Rescue between us and the crash site, and they were there almost immediately.  Jerry (blue shirt above) is a retired firefighter and Linda (yellow shorts) is a retired nurse.  They noticed a young woman pacing around with a tiny baby.  That person was the pilot’s wife.  They ended up pulling up their golf cart so she could sit down, as she was distraught.  They spent a good hour and a half with her, helping to calm her down.

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Before long, a helicopter arrived from Orlando…landing on the 3rd green of the adjoining golf course.  It took awhile to transfer the victim to the Life Flight, but soon he was on his way.

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This is the Brevard County Rescue photo of the remains of the craft.  Not a pretty picture, to say the least.

So, who was this person?  Well, it turns out he was a young man from Ukraine who was living and working in Miami with his wife and 3 month old baby.

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Dima was self employed, while his wife stayed home to care for their child.  He received 3rd degree burns over 20% of his body, along with broken vertebrae and ribs and a punctured lung.  He is lucky to be alive, but has a very difficult road ahead of him.  Turns out it was the first time he flew his craft. Should he have been attempting this with a young family to care for?  Most definitely not…but I’ll refer you to that lag time in common sense I spoke of earlier.  The adventurer inside of him was most likely gnawing at him, and he gave the sport of powered paragliding a try.  Unfortunately, it did not end well.

I think back to the times I took risks that could have ended this way.  One time in particular stands out to me.  I wiped out while slalom water skiing in one foot deep water while going 30 miles an hour.  I jammed my shoulder hard into the sandy lake bottom, but ended up hurting only my pride.  I could have easily broken my neck.  Was that stupid of me?  You bet it was.  That doesn’t change the fact that Diana would have had a very difficult life caring for me, had I been severely injured…much like Dima’s wife is going to have for the foreseeable future.  It’s that lucky-to-be-alive adventurer in us that is going to send them a little help via the Go Fund Me website that has been set up in their name.  If this story touches your heart and you wish to donate, the page can be accessed by clicking HERE.  If you are unable to donate, please send some good vibes or prayers their way, as this family is certainly going to need them.

Positive comments are appreciated and will be approved for publication.  Until next time; please be safe out there, fellow adventurers.

21 thoughts on “The Adventurer in All of Us”

  1. My heart goes out to the small family! What a horrible thing to witness. Our lives can completely change in one instant, whether by our own choices, the choices of others, or chance circumstance. It’s my personal faith that the grace of God gets us through every moment. My thoughts and prayers are with Dima, his wife, and the little one. Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We see those paragliders all over AZ and as many times as we’ve been tempted to go up in one, our better judgement takes over. They do look like so much fun. My prayers go out to the young couple!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is exactly why I made Lee stop taking flying lessons when our kids were young. I just couldn’t handle the what if’s and it was the only time in our marriage I pulled the wife card. Wonderful job writing about a difficult experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for this post and for all your help and support!!! It’s his wife Katya. So many people are helping and praying! It makes me stronger! I’m so appreciate for everything!
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When I started readying your post, I thought: “Did Jim go paragliding?!?! I want to do that!” In fact Barb and I have talked about getting one several times, even looking them up to see how much they are. Did you know you can fly one with no lessons or experience at all?
    I guess some of us are slow learners. Hoping he has a speedy recovery!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, no experience or license needed. The FAA has rules on how close you can get to other people and certain objects, but that’s it. They really do look like fun, and Dima certainly seemed to be enjoying his flight when he flew over us. I’m sure he would’ve been fine had there not been a stiff breeze or power lines. We all have done our share of crazy things, haven’t we? I shudder when I think of some of the ones I did.

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    1. Hindsight is 20/20, for sure. Even something as simple as walking along a drop off on a hiking trail has caused me to look back and think ‘that wasn’t a good idea’. Dina’s crash was a learning experience for a lot of us who were at the beach that night. Thank you for the recovery wishes, Kelly!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. He’s very lucky to be alive and those burns are going to be miserable for a long time. There was a much bigger chance he would have a wonderful flight experience than this mishap – sad that it turned out this way! So many “what ifs” and “whews” in all our lives. So many times we’ve been fortunate our adventures didn’t harm us, or not seriously. Wrapping this sweet little family in virtual hugs, and sending them a little something to help fund the lengthy recovery ahead. Thanks for telling their story.

    Liked by 1 person

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