STAMBAUGH, Ky. (WSAZ) - When 26-year-old David Meek left for vacation in Mississippi this summer he never imagined it would be more than two months before he returned home to Johnson County, and in a wheelchair.
This weekend Meek finally made it home after spending weeks at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington.
In August, he suffered serious injuries in a skydiving accident near Lumberton, Mississippi, on his last day of the vacation..
Meek was tandem skydiving with 56-year-old James Horak, when the main parachute malfunctioned. The men fell nearly 3 miles. Horak was killed in the accident.
Meek's friends searched for nearly six hours before he was found still tethered to Horak's body in a swampy area about a mile from the airport.
"I woke up on the ground...my arm broken in three places, elbow out of the skin, ribs crushed, spine crushed, my face crushed, my lip split. I mean I had so much wrong with me I shouldn't be here,” remembers Meek.
Meek now sits inside his living room with his family, a place he says he was not sure he would ever return to.
"They said don't look forward to it, they kept saying there is a chance I'm not going to make it, but God has got plans for me and I feel it," says Meek.
David "The Miracle" Meek as he is now known, says he finds hope with each and every movement he makes.
"Every day it is like I'm getting stronger and every other week I'm doing something new. I went from wiggling them (legs) to lifting them, to just recently now I can bend them a bit," says Meek.
He says those movements are the result of hard work at Cardinal Hill.
"Some days are harder than others, but I really don't want to stay this way so I just keep trying and trying."
Meek says he was about out of fuel but being able to wheel down the halls of his home instead of hospital hallways has rejuvenated him to push forward towards his goal.
"God has worked a lot of wonders for me and I believe it is the will that I will walk again one day...I do believe that," says Meek.
Now with his family and friends by his side, Meek says nothing can keep him down.
"I won't let anything stop me. I will sit there and pull myself up to any mountain it is. As long as I get there, that's all that matters and I'll pray about it until I get there," explains Meek.
Meek will continue therapy at home for about a month and then will return to Cardinal Hill for stage two of his rehab.
Meek, 26, from Paintsville, Kentucky is currently at Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital, in Lexington. He's lucky to be alive after free falling more than 15 thousand feet during a skydiving accident.
"It was the first time I was ever on a plane." says Meek. "I looked down and had the biggest smile on my face. I said, `Oh, my god, what am I doing."
Within minutes, Meek knew something was wrong. His skydiving partner, an experienced jumper, scrambled to work the cords of his chute.
Both men, survived the fall into a Mississippi swamp, but the tandem partner, died before emergency help arrived.
"He started talking and I noticed he was talking slower and slower." says Meek. "I kept on trying to keep him aware, but eventually it was too much for him; he gave up and died right there in front of me."
Meek is undergoing rehab for a variety of injuries. He's suffered a broken jaw, broken arm, ribs and has a spinal cord injury that has left him with little feeling in his legs.
"God's given me a second chance." says Meek. "I'm going to make good on that opportunity. I can't live my life being sad. I have hope and that's an amazing thing."
Meek, 26, of Paintsville, Ky., was vacationing on the coast in Mississippi. On Saturday, his last day of vacation, he decided to make a tandem jump from 15,000 feet with an experienced jumper.
He posted on his Facebook page, " jumping 15-thousand feet tomorrow from the sky..."
Something went terribly wrong with the parachute during the jump.
The pair fell 15,000 feet. It took emergency crews several hours to find them.
Friends of the jumper instructor Jim Horak say he always put safety first. They told station WPMI that he had jumped nearly 4,000 times.
"They need to keep praying for him because he needs all your prayers," Roger Vanhoose explained over the phone Wednesday afternoon.
Meek has a host of serious injuries, including some to his spinal cord.
Vanhoose told WSAZ.com that fluid is still leaking into his nephew's lung. His last surgery to repair his jaw and his arm lasted seven hours.
"We are sitting here waiting for more news, anything," Vanhoose said.
Meek's mother is at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Miss., with her son.
The accident happened near Lumberton, Mississippi, Saturday morning.
Lamar County, Miss., Sheriff Danny Rigel says 26-year-old David Meek. of Paintsville, Ky., has spinal and other injuries.
56-year-old James "Jimmie" Horak Jr. was killed in the accident.
Meek was tandem skydiving with Horak when something went wrong.
Rigel says three other skydivers who jumped with them told investigators that equipment appeared to malfunction
Based on ground evidence, Horak cut away the main parachute and tried to use his backup. The men then fell nearly 15,000 feet.
Meek's friends say they searched for nearly six hours before he was found still tethered to Horak's body in a swampy area about a mile from the airport.
Horak was an instructor for the Emerald Coast Skydiving Center in Elberta, Ala.
"I will tell you that the instructor, a highly trained professional, thousands of jumps, tandem instructor, pilot, accelerated free fall instructor, has been in the sport for many many years," Gold Coast Skydivers owner Leanne Igo said.
David Meek's friends say Saturday was his last day of vacation in Mississippi.
The Federal Aviation Administration will determine if the parachutes were properly rigged and if the parachute operation was in compliance with federal regulations.
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