Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 23, 2013

Man’s skydiving dream turns to nightmare

LOUISVILLE — For 26-year-old David Meek, optimism in the face of adversity is a philosophy he must live by after a skydiving accident has left him debilitated.

“I’ve always heard it has to get worse before it gets better,” Meek said from his bed at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington.

 On Aug. 3, Meek’s daredevil dreams became a reality when he participated in a tandem skydive in Lumberton, Miss.

 The Floyd County man compared the experience to swimming through open water. From three miles high, the world before him was like a puzzle, with the many roads and waterways laying out the pieces.

 This dream quickly dissolved to a nightmare.

 “I remember (my instructor) him pulling the cord and nothing happened,” Meek said referring to his partner who was tied to the same parachute. “I heard him say, ‘Oh, shoot!’ and I asked him what’s wrong but he didn’t say anything. I asked him over and over but he didn’t answer.”

 The parachute had not deployed properly from the pack. Unable to catch any wind, the chute tangled as they continued their descent.

 The instructor, James Horak, Jr., was a veteran Special Forces medic with over 8,000 jumps to his credit. Meek said that Horak frantically attempted to cut the lines of the parachute so they could deploy the emergency chute.

 “The parachute provided some resistance, but we kept falling and spinning so fast,” Meek said. “I just kept praying and praying and praying the whole way down until I blacked out.”

 He woke to find they landed in a swamp. He said the impact left him in a hole three to four feet wide.

 Meek said he was lying on Horak’s legs when he woke up and both men were paralyzed from the waist down.

 According to Meek, Horak passed away from the severity of his injuries one hour after they landed.

 “I was out there four hours, five hours,” Meek said. “I felt like I was starting to go, too. I just prayed to God and said, ‘God, please don’t let this be it, but if it is, take my body into your hands. I don’t want to go anywhere else except to you.’”

 Finally, Meek heard a four-wheeler close by.

 Meek said he cleared his airway as best he could and called out to the rider. The landowner, Patrick Halcomb, was among many searching for the two after they landed away from the planned drop zone.

 “He’s my hero,” Meek said with a smile. “God sent him straight to me. If he had shown up 15 to 30 minutes later than he did, I wouldn’t have made it.”

 Meek was unconscious for two weeks after the accident, occasionally waking for a few minutes at a time.

 His mother, Londa Sue Lafferty, said all he would utter in those moments was, “He’s dead, mommy,” in reference to Horak.  Lafferty rushed from Kentucky to Mississippi to see her son after he had undergone nine hours of surgery on his back, ribs and jaw.

 Meek’s condition continues to improve. Barely a month after the accident, Meek is able to stand with assistance.

 “I’m just meeting God halfway,” he said. “That’s why I do everything double, because I have to meet him halfway.”

 Meek attributes every bit of progress he has to the strength God is giving him right now.

 Even though he is in pain, he is very thankful for the second chance at life.

 “God gives me the pain to not forget He saved me,” Meek said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Flatwoods mayoral debate set for Tuesday

    A public debate among the candidates seeking to become the next mayor of Flatwoods will take place next week.

    April 22, 2014

  • Ashland couple indicted on grave violation charges

     A man and a woman from Ashland have been indicted for allegedly stealing brass flower vases from graves at Rose Hill Burial Park.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Shore clerk gives updates on city building bids, sewer project

    City officials may not have to wait much longer to move from their temporary offices on Main Street into a shiny, new building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Fate of stray animals in Carter County questioned

    Stray animals in Carter County may be disappearing because no one seems to know exactly where they are going.

    April 22, 2014

  • Recovery center finds home

    The mayor of Grayson said he isn’t concerned about the money a new recovery center will funnel into the city, although he is deeply appreciative of what the proposed facility may be able to offer “people who really need help” recovering from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.

    April 22, 2014

  • Olive Hill man charged with shooting wife during dispute

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.
    Robert Tackett, 47, of Olive Hill, was lodged in the Carter County Detention Center on Monday, charged with attempted murder-domestic violence, Kentucky State Police at Ashland said.

    April 22, 2014

  • Two of three Greenup commission seats on ballot

    Two of three commission seats are up for grabs in Greenup County this fall, and both will involve primary contests to determine the ballot lineup in the November election.

    April 22, 2014

  • 0423attmurder_tackett.jpg Olive Hill man charged with attempted murder

    A Carter County man has been arrested for allegedly shooting his wife in the neck during a domestic dispute.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rotary updated on Alliance

    Ed Neely, president of the Ashland Rotary Club and chairman of the Ashland Alliance, addressed Rotarians in both capacities during the Monday meeting to give an update on the organization’s recent progress.

    April 21, 2014

  • Prater has been satisfying fans’ hunger for 40 years

    Debbie Prater has satisfied thousands of athletes’, parents’ and fans’ snacking desires for nearly 360 months.
    That’s just about 40 years of serving nachos, popcorn, chili dogs, water and soda from Lewis County’s football, basketball and baseball concession stands, and Prater is retiring after this year’s last pitch.

    April 21, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone