Base jumper reveals how he lived 180ft drop over cliff after parachute failure

A base jumper has revealed how he survived a terrifying 180ft plunge from a cliff top after his parachute failed.

Chad Smith, who has completed 230 base jumps, jumped from the White Cliffs of Dover on December 28 – before hurtling towards the coastal rocks below face-first.

His friends stood nearby, watching on in horror as they filmed him free-fall the height of 11 London buses.

Speaking about his brush with death, Chad, from Maidstone in Kent, said how he "messed up" his takeoff and threw the small parachute – known as a pilot chute – in the wrong direction, reports The Sun.

The 27-year-old said: "I was so concerned about getting a good push off I messed up the pilot chute and threw it down instead of up.


"As soon as I jumped I knew it had gone wrong. I thought I was going to die.

“It was three seconds between jumping and hitting the rocks. The ground was coming towards me when it shouldn’t."

Thankfully, Chad’s parachute finally opened just milliseconds before he smashed into the ground below – saying it saved his life.

He added that if the ground had been just a few less feet away – he "would be dead".

The thrill-seeker, who has also completed 3,000 skydives, suffered four broken vertebrae and a broken pelvis.

Footage of the incident captures friends’ panicked screams, as walkers nearby rush to help.

He was winched by the coastguard helicopter to the cliffs above, where medics worked on his before he was airlifted 75miles in a critical condition to a specialist trauma unit at King’s College Hospital, South London.


The day after his fall, he wrote on Facebook: "Thanks for all the support guys. Much appreciated at this difficult time.

"I am keeping upbeat and generally happy. Going to be in hospital for a few weeks.

"Looks like I won’t be needing any surgery which is a huge bonus. Anyway thanks again to everyone for being awesome!"

After 12 says in hospital, Chad, who works as a cameraman, took his first steps on Wednesday with the help of a frame.

Despite his agonising injuries, Chad said he hasn’t been put off base jumping and would jump again when he males a full recovery.

However, the accident has reminded him not to be "complacent" when it comes to jumping and says he has been "taught a lesson".

A Kent Police spokesperson added: "Kent Police was made aware at 12.20pm on Friday 28 December 2018 of a report of a man seen on a cliff in St Margaret’s Bay in Dover.

"Officers are currently at the scene to assist HM Coastguard, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, and the South East Coast Ambulance Service."

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: "The casualty was winched onboard the Lydd Coastguard helicopter and was taken to the top of the cliff where he was transferred into the care of the Air Ambulance for onward transfer to hospital."

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