Local Bruce Cheeseman at Kelowna hospital after skydiving accident

Grand Forks' Bruce Cheeseman at Kelowna General Hospital after skydiving accident.

Bruce Cheeseman during one of his skydiving trips.

Bruce Cheeseman during one of his skydiving trips.

Grand Forks resident Bruce Cheeseman is doing well and was recently transferred to Kelowna General Hospital after a skydiving accident early August in Montana.

The accident has left Bruce without any motor functions below the waist, though he does have good sensitivity and may walk again.

“He’s in good spirits,” said his wife, Cindy. “He’s way more positive than I would be if I were in his position.”

Bruce left Grand Forks on Aug. 8 to attend a skydiving event in Montana with a friend.

During his trip, Cindy explained that Bruce wanted a new rig (skydiving equipment) to replace an older one. However, because his new container was not available, he put his new main canopy into his old container.

After completing a 10-way jump, where everyone joins hands and practices in the sky, he went on his first jump.

Cindy noted that Bruce pulled his rig but couldn’t remember anything after because he was knocked out.

“About 10-feet (three metres) from the ground he came to, though he was still disorientated,” she said. “He

narrowly missed an aircraft (while he was falling) because they weren’t near the drop zone and then hammered into the ground.”

Bruce was originally airlifted to Coatesville Medical Centre in Montana before he was transferred to Calgary Foothills in Alberta eight hours later. During his two and a half week stay in Calgary, Bruce underwent two surgeries.

“His spine L1 vertebrae was crushed and completed obliterated and his L2, L3 and L4 were compressed and fractured,” said Cindy. “They tried to realign his spine, which was at a 90 degree angle and they put in a couple of rods and lots of hardware.”

However, Cindy would like everyone to know Bruce is doing well.

“(Bruce) has always been seen running around town and he’s a very physical person so we’re very positive that he’s going to put 110 per cent into it for his rehab. We do have our fingers cross but rehab is a long and slow process.”

She added that Bruce is always up for visitors and to see some friendly faces.

Prior to this accident, Bruce had completed over 950 jumps.