Former Royal Marine from Hampshire describes moment skydive went catastrophically wrong

Watch: ITV News Meridian's Rachel Hepworth reports.

A former Royal Marines Commando has thanked air ambulance medics, after a skydive went horribly wrong.

Michael Oakes from Andover broke his back after plummeting 15,000ft, when a mid-air manoeuvre didn't go as planned.

He was completing his 379th skydive, his eighth that weekend, when a complicated manoeuvre he learnt the day before went horribly wrong.

Michael's dramatic landing and lapse into unconsciousness was caught on his helmetcam. He's heard groaning before help arrives.

No stranger to extreme and demanding sports, he has completed 18 Ironman Triathlons and six 100-mile ultramarathons.

When Michael first hit the floor, he thought he was okay, but, just 10 seconds later, he was unconscious in a heap on the ground. The staff surrounded Michael and went into “emergency mode.”  

“I was luckily jumping with a doctor who took control of the situation,” said Michael.

“But, as time went on, I knew I was in trouble. The pain just kept increasing and with it the volume of my screams. I consider myself quite stoic, but I’d never felt anything like it before.” 

Michael Oakes was taken to Southampton General Credit: ITV Meridian

Unbelievably, the incident happened less than a month ago, and already he is back on his feet, albeit tentatively.

He's thanked air ambulance medics who he believes saved his life, and at the very least, enabled him to walk again: "When the Air Ambulance landed, I remember just thinking that I'm safe now. I knew that whatever happened next the outcome would be the best it could possibly be."

The crew asked Michael some questions before cutting away his clothes and administering strong pain relief so he could be safely loaded onto the helicopter, ready to be flown to University Hospital Southampton.

Michael feared he would never be able to walk his beloved dogs again

He spent the next seven days in the specialist spinal unit before being discharged home.  

“By some miracle my spinal cord appears unaffected,” he said.

“It’s going to be months-long, but I’m determined that I’ll work hard and recover. I should regain nearly 100% function and be able to do all the things that I used to do before. And yes, I will be jumping out of planes again once it’s safe for me to do so.”

“I find it hard to articulate how grateful I am. My hope is that somehow, the crew go home every day knowing that they’ve tangibly impacted lives for the better. 

“We donate to these charities hoping that we’ll never need them, but without your donations and support I’d have been on the ground, perhaps for hours, in a pain I can’t describe – left unable to walk again. So, thank you everyone – I just don’t know how to make that small word bigger.”

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