Skydiver dangles 50 feet on tree limb

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Mike Dempsey’s first parachute jump may very well be his last.

Around 2 p.m. Saturday, the Blue Bill Court resident, on his first solo jump with Skydive Suffolk, was nearing the ground when his parachute snagged on an outstretched pine tree branch in the 1500 block of Carolina Road, said Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department.

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Dempsey, trapped on the tree branch for several minutes, was unhurt in the accident, George said.

Firefighters, who rescued Dempsey using one of the department’s ladder trucks, estimated he was about 50 feet up in the air.

Dempsey refused to comment.

But Carolina Road resident Stephanie Cox, who called 911 after she spotted Dempsey dangling from the tree over her house, knows just fortunate he was.

Last year, a skydiver died after landing on the opposite side of Carolina Road.

The branch holding Dempsey was over three power lines, Cox said.

&uot;He is lucky,&uot; Cox said. &uot;I had no idea those trees were that strong. &uot;

Cox and neighbors, who live less than a mile from the Suffolk Executive Airport, say it’s not unusual to see skydivers veered off course come down in the fields around their homes.

&uot;Today was pretty amazing,&uot; said one woman, who refused to give her name. &uot;That young man will have his own 9-11.&uot;