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Video: Skydive mishap survivor, 81: 'It didn’t really scare me'

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    >>> with the survivor of a frightening skydiving mishap. this one was caught on tape and it could have ended very differently. we're going to talk to 81-year-old laverne everett exclusively in a moment. but first, her story. for laverne everett skydiving had been a lifelong dream.

    >> this something you always wanted to do?

    >> for years.

    >> reporter: so last year, after turning 80, everett decided it was time to take the plunge.

    >> what's the reason?

    >> i just turned 80.

    >> reporter: she needed a little push when her knees went out right before the jump.

    >> he helped me. he gave me a little boost with his feet. and he did that. he knew how bad i wanted to do it.

    >> reporter: but what happened next could have made that birthday her last, as she fell through the air in a tandem skydive , everett somehow slipped from the harness.

    >> i think i knew something was coming not right, but i didn't know it was as bad as it was. so to speak.

    >> reporter: as she dangled from the straps, she couldn't see a thing.

    >> because my toes were up over my face. the

    >> reporter: the videographer tried to help the instructor but as the pair tumbled there was nothing anyone could do. everett was still hanging as they finally touched down.

    >> oh, my gosh.

    >> oh, my gosh.

    >> reporter: the faa is now looking into the incident. nbc news reached out to the parachute center owner, bill dawes about everett 's jump. dawes would only say no one got injured and the landing was fine. one year after the fall the video has gone viral, and everett says she's had no hard feelings.

    >> i'm not sorry i did it.

    >> reporter: at 81, everett is already planning her next daring adventure.

    >> probably going in a race car . i think maybe that's my next thing.

    >> laverne everett is with us exclusively, along with her sister. ladies, good morning to both of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> are you okay? you know, i want to talk about what happened a second. but when you landed, did you get injured based on the way you were hanging there?

    >> i just got a few bruises, and a scraped knee.

    >> and that was it?

    >> that was it.

    >> we spoke on the phone over the weekend.

    >> yes.

    >> laverne , and i said to you, you must have been so scared, and you said, you know, not until i saw the videotape.

    >> that's right. most of it, yes.

    >> so when you saw the videotape of what happened to you, what went through your mind?

    >> well, it didn't really scare me. but --

    >> jimmy thinks otherwise.

    >> it scared me.

    >> oh, she always --

    >> by the way, you were there. we'll talk about that in a second. when you went out of the plane, first of all, it looked like he gave you a pretty good shove to get you out of the plane.

    >> i don't recall anything like that. he gave me a nudge with his feet.

    >> right.

    >> and then you did a couple of somersaults and the next thing you know, when you started to get stabilized you were hanging in a "v" position out of that. did you know that something was really wrong?

    >> well, i felt my harness slip on the shoulder here in my left shoulder. and that's about, i guess, all i know or maybe i wanted to know.

    >> were you screaming?

    >> no.

    >> was he screaming?

    >> no. but his -- he's telling me to hang on.

    >> hold onto anything you could grab?

    >> i had these -- part of my harness, i guess.

    >> and you were holding onto that.

    >> i had them handles that i was holding onto.

    >> then you're under the stabilizers, then the main chute comes out, that's even more of a jolt. that's when i thought you might slip out of this thing completely. and jimmy, you're on the ground looking up watching this.

    >> and i know something's wrong. i mean, i know that because she's coming down slower, so what he's doing, he's guiding her off of the asphalt, onto the field so she can land in the field, instead of landing on the aspha asphalt.

    >> and when you saw her come down, did you think, this was going to be --

    >> i thought that this was it.

    >> she was going to be dead?

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> landing like that.

    >> i was freaking out. my daughter said she's never seen me look like that because i was freaking out.

    >> what made you want to do that? i know you said it was 80, and it was your birthday.

    >> bucket list .

    >> this was a bucket list thing?

    >> well, i guess you could call it that.

    >> have you always been a daredevil, a thrill seeker ?

    >> well, i don't know for a long time, anyway.

    >> yeah. so 500,000 people, laverne , have gone on and taken a look at this video.

    >> oh.

    >> how does that make you feel?

    >> oh, i --

    >> takes your breath.

    >> i'm in shock.

    >> yeah? you get a little nervous that 500,000 people have seen your brassiere?

    >> it hasn't bothered me so far.

    >> okay. maybe i shouldn't have brought it up then, i shouldn't have said it. you say you want to go in a race car now?

    >> well, if i get a chance.

    >> you really want to do that?

    >> i'm considering it.

    >> knitting class, something like that?

    >> oh! knitting is boring.

    >> no? well you two make a good team. it was fun talking to you over the weekend. i know your life has changed a little bit because of this.

    >> yes, you could say that.

    >> hopefully it calms down a little in the future.

    >> a little bit.

    >> she's strong. she's a very strong woman .

    >> i think you're both strong women. i'm glad you're okay and i'm glad you're here to talk about it.

    >> i'm glad i am, too.

    >> thank you, laverne . it's a pleasure. jimmy, great to meet

TODAY contributor
updated 5/29/2012 9:14:25 AM ET 2012-05-29T13:14:25

For her 80th birthday, Laverne Everett fulfilled a long-time wish and went skydiving. It nearly became the final item on her bucket list.

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Everett, now 81, almost slipped completely out of her harness during a tandem jump last May at the Parachute Center in Lodi, Calif. A year after her frightening fall to earth, the video of her jump has gone viral. The clip shows a hesitant Everett getting a nudge off the side of the plane by the instructor, then slipping out of her harness as her partner clings to her tightly.

Video: Skydive mishap survivor, 81: 'It didn’t really scare me' (on this page)

Dangling facedown, her own clothes obstructed her view. Her partner guided them safely away from the asphalt below, and they landed on a grassy spot. Everett escaped with just a few bruises and scrapes. It wasn’t until she saw the video afterward that she realized the degree of peril she faced, but she remains undaunted.

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“It didn’t really scare me,’’ she told Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday.

The same could not be said for Everett’s sister, Jimmie Campora, who appeared alongside Everett on Tuesday. Campora was watching from the ground as the whole scene unfolded.

“I thought, ‘This was it,’’’ Campora told Lauer. “I was freaking out. My daughter said she’s never seen me like that.”

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Everett recalled the harness slipping down to her left shoulder, but said that neither she nor her partner screamed. The videographer parachuting alongside tried to help, but there was nothing he could do as the instructor held on to Everett for dear life.

“That’s about I guess all I wanted to know,’’ she said. “He’s telling me to hang on.’’

“It scared me,’’ Campora said. “And I know something’s wrong because she’s coming down slower.’’

Story: Lone plane crash survivor’s father: It’s ‘miraculous’

In the video, Everett looks hesitant, with her knees buckling right before the instructor nudges her off the edge of the plane before the jump.

“He gave me a little boost with his feet,’’ Everett told NBC News. “I needed that. He knew how bad I wanted to do it.’’

The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into the incident. At least eight people have died at the Parachute Center in the last 10 years, including one in April, according to a report by CBS Sacramento. In 2010, 21 fatal skydiving accidents occurred in the United States, according to the United States Parachute Association, compared to 16 in 2009.

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“No one got injured and the landing was fine,’’ Parachute Center owner Bill Dause told NBC News.

“I’m not sorry I did it,’’ Everett told NBC News. She has been more overwhelmed by her online fame than by nearly coming unharnessed from a parachute in mid-air.

“I’m in shock,’’ she said as Lauer told her more than 500,000 people have watched her video.

The incident has not deterred her daredevil ways: Next up, she might take a spin in a race car.

“I’m considering it,’’ she said, giggling. “There’s a chance.’’

Would you go skydiving after hearing her story? Tell us on TODAY's Facebook page.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints


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