Your back has been broken for 44 years

From The Telegraph:

The memory of landing heavily at the end of a 2,000ft parachute jump has stayed with Tony Bell for more than four decades.

He clearly recalls scrambling down a tree in Zaire and walking for four days through the jungle, bolstered only by herbs and morphine offered by a tribe.

But it is only now, 44 years later, that he has learned the true extent of his injury that day: he broke his back

The injury was diagnosed after he was taken to Burnley General Hospital, Lancs, when he collapsed at the second tee during a round of golf. "I was staggered when I found out the truth,'' said Mr Bell, a retired photo-journalist.

"I did have some back pain at the time of the accident, but I took some painkillers and thought no more about it. The doctor said the fracture had heeled itself so I will need no more treatment for it. I'm very lucky to be alive."

Mr Bell, 66, was hurt while studying African languages as a postgraduate at Manchester University. The then UN general secretary, Dag Hammarskjold, had died in an air crash and Mr Bell was parachuted in by a news agency to photograph the scene.

"I was blown off course and landed heavily in a tree. I remember feeling very sore. The adrenaline of the situation must have stopped me realising how seriously hurt I was. The parachute straps were tight around my body and kept me upright.''

He took his pictures then trekked through jungle.

In 44 years he was twice married, brought up four children, played cricket and football and boxed.

Fourteen years ago he was shipwrecked on a Fijian island in a life raft. He survived for 11 months on coconuts, fish and eggs before two yachtsmen picked him up.

He said doctors had been debating whether he should now take things easy. "I have been told to cut out the golf but I don't think I will.''
It seems that his story was also the inspiration for the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away

If Tony's story has a familiar ring to it, that's because it was later picked up by Dreamworks, the Hollywood production company behind the Tom Hanks film Cast Away, and parts of it used in the film -- for instance when Tom's character begins conversing with a basketball he names Wilson.
An 2004 interview with Tony Bell
.. And here I was was thinking that I'd had quite an interesting and active life so far.
Apparently, he'd been stranded for ten months (surviving on coconuts & fish) before realising that there was a Stop Shop at the other end of the island - which is where he got his eggs, milk and Daily Mail... probably.
A chap I know, a Fusilier colonel, slipped getting off a plane at LAX. The jolt and subsequent treatment revealed that he too had broken a disk in his back whilst parachuting - some thirty years before. Personally I'm investing in three foot in-soles. I know that I was overweight for parachuting on my last jump and I am probably a quadriplegic waiting to be initiated...

Latest Threads