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Ten million viewers have watched the amazing rescue of an Aussie skydiver who passed out at 9000 feet after suffering an epileptic seizure in freefall.

Dramatic footage recorded by a helmet-mounted camera shows Perth man Christopher Jones, 22, jump from a plane before suffering a seizure seconds into the flight over Pinjarra, in Western Australia.

The instructor realises his student is in trouble - and at the second attempt he manages to grab hold of the unconscious Christopher and pull the rip cord to open his parachute. He subsequently regained consciousness and landed safely.

Mr Jones told ABC his epilepsy had prevented him from becoming a pilot but that he had believed his condition had improved sufficiently to enable him to skydive.

"I'd been seizure-free for four years," he said. "I'd always wanted to have the feeling of flight, so I just thought, considering I can't fly a plane due to my condition, I thought I'd give it a go. I remember up until the point I blacked out and then waking up underneath the parachute at about 3000 feet."

Skydive master Sheldon McFarlane - who carried out the skilful rescue - modestly insisted that Mr Jones' parachute would in any case have opened automatically. "At no time was I worried he was going to hit the ground without a parachute, but given the circumstances and where we were I thought it would be better to get him under parachute earlier than later," Mr McFarlane told ABC.

Robin O'Neill, business manager and chief instructor for Western Australia Skydiving Academy, confirmed that computerised safety mechanisms were in place for such events. "These are effectively computers that are height and velocity sensitive," he said. "So at some stage he would have ended up with a parachute, but having said that we don't rely on mechanical devices to do the job a fully functioning free-dive instructor can do."

If you've not yet seen the rescue you can check out the incredible footage on YouTube here:


Amazing footage: skydiver rescued after passing out in freefall
Digital Mag

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