BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala (WALA) - David Meek, 26, of Paintsville, Kentucky is lucky to be alive although doctors have told family members that he'll never walk again. Meek was critically injured while making a tandem skydive jump with 56 year old skydiving veteran James Horak, Jr. of Pensacola, FL. Horak died at the scene. The accident happened in Lumberton, Mississippi at Gold Coast Skydiving on Saturday, August 3, 2013. Fox 10 News talked to Meek's mother, Londa Sue Lafferty late Tuesday afternoon from Forrest General Hospital in Hattisburg, MS.
"His little bones…his organs. Just from his head down to his toes. I mean his little face is all broken and smashed in," Lafferty said holding back tears. "You know, according to them, he's never going to walk again. It's awful."
Friends of Meek say David had spent the week on the Mississippi coast on his first vacation and skydiving is something he always wanted to try. The trip was not only his first skydiving attempt, but also his first time in an airplane. According to friends on the scene, the rescue effort took too long to develop and six hours passed before the two were found by a local landowner. Before Meek entered surgery, he was able to communicate to his friends some of what happened while waiting to be rescued.
"That boy, that man, he was with was alive," Lafferty said referring to Hovak. "He didn't die on impact and my son crawled."
When asked who told her that, Lafferty replied, "My son. That's the reason he wants to someday tell his story."
"So he was alive for a period of time," we asked?
"Right…and my son even gave him CPR," Lafferty said.
While Meek's family stands by his side, family and friends of his instructor, known as "Jimmie" are dealing with the heavy burden of funeral arrangements and the nagging questions of what went wrong. At Horak Field in Elberta the flag was at half staff on Tuesday and all activity at a standstill. Horak served his country as a medic in the Special Forces and had over 8,000 successful jumps to his credit. Friends say safety was always on the top of the list.
"He was in charge of our training here. He was our chief instructor and he made sure that we followed the rules and if there was anything that we needed to learn, that we sat down and really talked about what we needed to do to maintain a safe operation," said Horak's friend of 30 years and skydiving companion, Timber McKinney.
While Horak's friends and family are still coming to terms with their loss, they say their thoughts and prayers are also with David Meek who's still fighting for his life in a Mississippi hospital. Meeks mother says David was in the process of undergoing two more surgeries Tuesday afternoon to fix his shattered jaw and arm. While doctors have told her that he won't walk again she has faith that God has a plan for him and his friends have already given him a new nickname…David "The Miracle" Meek.
"Mr. Meek must be a tough individual and I'm sure Jimmy did everything he could to protect him," McKinney said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Visitation for James "Jimmie" Horak, Jr. will be Thursday, August 8 followed by funeral services at Holy Spirit Catholic Church on Gulf Beach Highway in Pensacola. The burial will follow at Prince of Peace Cemetery in Elberta. Visitation begins at 10:00 a.m. with the funeral at 11 a.m.
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