Christie Brinkley proved to be a survivor in more ways than one. Her most notable feat is emerging from a helicopter crash decades ago without major injuries.
Model Christie Brinkley's helicopter crash made headlines in 1994, with many considering it a "Good Friday" miracle that she escaped the ordeal with her life.
Although reports at the time confirmed she only sustained minor injuries, the aftermath of the crash has lived with her for almost three decades. Needless to say, the repercussion, albeit minor, affects the 67-year-old's life to date.
THE NEAR-FATAL CRASH
In April 1992, Brinkley boarded a helicopter, alongside five people embarking on a skiing trip. The helicopter crashed into a 12800 feet high mountain about six miles south of Telluride, Colorado, during their adventurous sojourn.
The crash took place at about 1:30 pm on that fateful Friday, leaving the group of five trapped at the peak of the mountain. Five hours later, rescue operators located the group and found all five alive, with injuries ranging from minor to major.
Rescue helicopters hoisted the members of the group down the mountain using a cable. One of them sustained major injuries and was transported to the hospital by air ambulance.
Brinkley's spokeswoman, Margo MacNabb, confirmed the model only suffered minor injuries of undisclosed nature and received medical aid.
The helicopter's occupants included the actress, three other skiers, a guide, and the pilot. They were later identified as Ricky Tubman, Sandra Will, Sandra's son, Cade Will, the pilot Tom Sharp, and the ski guide Mike Friedman.
BRINKLEY'S RECOLLECTION OF THE ACCIDENT
Days after the devastating accident, Christie Brinkley graced the front covers of People's magazine, appearing unscathed but for a bandaged left wrist.
The entrepreneur detailed what became for her a seven-hour nightmare. She admittedly decided to go on the trip after hearing her friends gush about the incredible feeling invoked by heli-skiing.
She recalled getting on the aircraft after 45 minutes of briefing conducted by Friedman. The group of five took off from the Telluride airport at 10 am, flying seven miles southeast towards San Juan peaks.
The adventure proved as exciting as described. After about one hour 30 minutes of adrenaline-pumping flight through the mountains, the group agreed to explore a higher altitude.
Just as they did, the wind suddenly rose to 20 mph, which was an unsafe condition for air travel. Almost at once, the sky also became cloudy. The pilot decided to land.
However, before touch-down, the chopper lost control unexpectedly and plunged head-first into the underlying mountains. Brinkley recalled:
"We just dropped. All of a sudden, it was like someone cut the cords to the elevator. Like the mountain was sucking us in, zooming into us. And I remember thinking: "O my God, this is really happening."
All that occupied her mind at that moment was that she was heading to her death. When the helicopter landed with a hard impact, she was only glad to be alive and had a story to tell.
Brinkley's "minor" injuries were a hard hit to her hip, which left her dealing with agonizing hip pain for over twenty-five years.
Brinkly savored every aspect of her life in those blissful decades, knowing her being alive was a gift. In one of her Instagram posts, the Hollywood icon admitted she never let a day go by without counting her blessing for being alive.
The attitude has given her a positive outlook on life, which has affected all areas of her existence even as she kept moving.
But it appears the survivor was moving too fast. In January 2021, Brinkley revealed she underwent hip replacement surgery, about 26 years after her near-fatal death experience.
She injured her hip during the country skiing accident but overlooked the hit as a minor injury. However, the pain worsened each year until the doctors eventually informed her she needed a hip replacement.
She received the diagnosis about a decade ago but still overlooked it due to her busy schedule. Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, availing the star all the time in the world to undergo her much-needed surgery.
The procedure miraculously eased the pain, making her regret not undergoing it sooner. Sharing her story, she urged everyone to always put their health first, no matter how busy they got.
Notably, Brinkley underwent an arm surgery a year prior, after sustaining an arm injury during her stint on "Dancing With The Stars."
BRINKLEY'S THOUGHTS ON BRYANT'S DEATH
Following NBA legend Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash in January 2020, Christie Brinkley felt herself relive her awful near-death experience all over again.
Days after the reports flooded the media, the actress granted an interview where she recalled her reaction to the basketball icon's helicopter accident. Recalling the moment she heard the news, she said:
"I got a call from my daughter Sailor… She knows I'm sensitive to helicopter things. As soon as she said it, though, I spontaneously burst into tears."
Brinkley admittedly grew up in a "Lakers home" where everyone idolized Bryant. Recalling the NBA star's warm treatment of her mom made her more devastated.
At that moment, it dawned on her that no one was reassured of another day. The reflection on life led Brinkley to call her daughter and everyone else she knew to let them know how much she loved them.
September 10, 2021