This girl was excited for the adventure she was about to have, but instead it turned into an absolute nightmare for her.
Emma Carey was just 20 years old in June 2013 when she departed on a 3-month-long backpackers tour through Europe with a friend. 5 days in, she went skydiving, something that had always been on her bucketlist.
But as reported by The Daily Telegraph, the jump would almost cost her her life.
Carey had been excited to go skydiving, and had always planned to do the jump in Switzerland. Later, she confessed that she had never even been nervous, because she was too busy being pumped.
“When we jumped out I remember it was the most incredible feeling ... the free fall is so peaceful, you are just so present in the moment,” she explained.
Just moments later, she realized something was awfully wrong. When he instructor pulled the chute, Carey remembers them slowing down slightly, but she couldn't see it above her. Her instructor was also not responding to her.
As they got perilously close to the ground, she recognized what was about to happen. Carey hit the ground hard, and her instructor landed on her back.
To this day, it is not entirely confirmed what actually happened, but an investigation led them to believe that the instructor had pulled the chute too late, causing the emergency chute to deploy at the same time and get tangled.
Carey's instructor was not answering her, because the parachutes had gotten tangled around his neck, causing him to pass out.
Because they had not landed where they were supposed to, it took some time for help to find them. Fortunately, Carey had a friend who jumped behind her, and had seen what had happened and where they had landed.
Her friend called the rescue helicopter, and she was air lifted to a hospital nearby in Switzerland. There it was discovered that she had broken her back, and had a spinal cord injury at the L1.
She also broke her sacrum, her pelvis, her jaw, and shattered her teeth.
Carey spent a month recovering in that hospital before she was transported home to Sydney, where she spent a further 3 months in hospital. She was told that she was paralyzed from the waist down, and would never walk again.
Just 4 months later, Carey defied the odds and took her first steps. First, she used a walking frame, then two crutches, then just one crutch. Now she walks unassisted.
Leaving hospital was actually the hardest time for Carey out of the entire ordeal, because going home made her realize how much her life had changed.
"I couldn't walk around the house I used to live in, some old friends weren’t there for me, I wheeled past streets where I used to run, I couldn’t go back to work: every part of my life had changed,” she said.
Previously, sport had been Carey's outlet. It was how she coped with difficult times in her life. That was all suddenly taken away from her.
But while it was an awful time for the youngster, she also learnt that she could rely only on herself to provide happiness in her life.
Her positive attitude towards life is the only way that she overcame her new challenges, always able to see the bright side of things.
Carey is now 25 years old, and her story has inspired thousands. She has an Instagram following of 109,000 people, all of whom are amazed at what she has survived.
While Carey has made an incredible recovery, there are still side effects from the accident that she has to face on a daily basis.
She still suffers a great deal of pain, which she tries to overcome with massage and stretching, rather than pain killers. She also has to use a catheter, which often causes infections, and gets injured far more easily than before.
In May 2018, she will be participating in the Wings for the World run, an event that raises money for people with spinal cord injuries. In 2017, she partcipated in a wheelchair. This year, she will walk it.
Carey has also had the date of the accident tattooed on her arm. She is often faced with people asking why she would want such a horrible date on her skin, but in her usual sunny disposition, she doesn't see it that way.
"I see it is that it is the date I could have died but didn’t. It is the date I realised my love for life and became the person I am today. I now call it my re-birthday. It is also a gentle reminder that every day I am on this earth after June 9 is a blessing."
Emma Carey, Gold Coast Bulletin, September 4, 2017.