Dion Callaway lost his left leg in a skydiving accident two years ago. He lost its replacement on Sunday.
Callaway, 39, shattered his heel bone in 2017 after attempting a high-speed landing, and following a year of rehabilitation therapy, the injury still had complications. Doctors said he might never walk again on the injured limb, he said in a phone interview.
So he opted to have his leg amputated below the knee, and then resumed skydiving as soon as he could.
His sister took Calloway and his twin brother tandem skydiving for the first time as a 23rd birthday present. He hated the idea until he jumped out of the plane and felt like he was floating. He went back the next weekend to learn to skydive without professional assistance.
He’s jumped 495 times since.
“It’s like a sensation of floating,” he said, “and it’s a lot of fun. You’re up there with your friends playing around at two miles up. It’s like you’re Peter Pan.”
But Sunday, things didn’t go as planned. There was a tear in the compression sleeve that helps keep his limb attached to the prosthesis. When he leaped from the aircraft 10,000 feet up, the sleeve filled with air and ripped the prosthetic leg right off.
Callaway, jumping with three friends, pushed away from them in midair to try to track the trajectory of his prosthesis, but lost track.
“I landed with one leg and spent the rest of the day looking for it,” he said.
For four hours afterward on one foot and crutches, he peered through vineyards that flank the Russian River in Cloverdale, California, the heart of the state’s wine country. No luck.
“I didn’t think I was going to get it back,” he said.
His leg had blown a half mile south of the airport into a lumber mill, where a worker found it and – after checking the area – turned it over to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies called officials at the airport, which connected them to Callaway. He picked up the prosthetic, in perfect condition after falling 10,000 feet, on Monday.
Callaway said he plans to jump again on Saturday and work back into a routine of diving weekly now that he’s recovered from his injury.
He said he’ll be more careful securing his prosthesis, but landing on one leg, he’s proved, isn’t out of the question.
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