CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — She is shaken up, but very grateful to have little more than a few scratches.
The young woman who was stuck dangling from a tree after skydiving on Long Island spoke about the ordeal on Thursday.
“The first thing that was going through my head was, ‘Is anybody going to find us?'” Amber Gandolfo told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff in an exclusive interview.
Gandolfo is a little scratched up, but amazingly in one piece after her first skydive ended in disaster. She and her instructor dangled from 70-foot trees for nearly an hour.
“I just knew that if I was going to fall, it wasn’t going to be good,” Gandolfo said. “Broken limbs, paralyzed … I was hanging on for dear life to the branches that I had in front of me.”
The 25-year-old medical assistant said that the day of the incident started out sunny with calm winds. But while she and other skydivers were above Calverton, winds kicked up violently on the ground. The staff at Skydive Long Island told CBS 2 that they tried to call off the jump, but the skydivers — including Gandolfo and her instructor — were already descending.
“(My instructor) got silent, so I kind of had this gut feeling that something wasn’t right,” Gandolfo explained.
Gandolfo said she knew that they missed the drop zone, and braced herself for an off-course landing. They ended up atop pine trees 20 feet from power lines.
“I tried to keep it calm up there,” Gandolfo said. “I didn’t want to shake, I didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to cry. I just wanted to hang onto my tree and stay in place.”
The smile on her face and the hug for her boyfriend said it all when Gandolfo was finally safe on terra firma.
“I am definitely grateful to be alive,” Gandolfo exclaimed. “Going through those trees as fast as we were, I’m so lucky to not have any injuries.”
And an obvious question elicited a surprising answer. Will she ever skydive again?
Gandolfo said “yes,” but not anytime soon.
Manorville firefighters who rescued Gandolfo said that off-course landings from stiff winds are unusual, but happen every few years.
Does a story like this discourage you from ever giving skydiving a try? Let us know in the comments section below…