Man who survived 12,000-foot fall at 200kmh when a skydive with his daughter went horribly wrong relives the moment hero instructor sacrificed himself to save his life
- Hero skydiving instructor save a grandfather’s life after cushioning impact
- Christopher Rantall, 54, and his daughter went skydiving in June this year
- Arron Toepfer turned at last second after the primary and backup chutes failed
Published: | Updated:
A grandfather has told of the moment his parachute didn’t open when skydiving and paid tribute to the hero instructor who sacrificed himself to save his life.
Christopher Rantall, 54, from Warrnambool in Victoria, and his daughter Raya went tandem skydiving in July as she celebrated her birthday.
The 12,000-foot jump started out well but Mr Rantall soon realised something had gone wrong when he looked up to see the parachute had not opened properly.
Hero skydiving instructor Arron Toepfer (pictured) turned to cushion the impact for Mr Rantall and didn’t survive
Mr Rantall said his instructor Arron Toepfer, 35, had gone to release the first chute while he was enjoying the adrenaline rush of his first skydive.
‘I’m just loving this freefall, it was just fantastic … I look up and I could see [the chute] wasn’t filling with air and I could see Raya above us and I was like “oh we’re in trouble here”,’ Mr Rantall told 7 News.
What he didn’t know was that chute was the secondary backup and the first chute had also failed to open.
‘They just went straight past us so I said to my instructor “how fast can we get down there”,’ Raya said.
Christopher Rantall (pictured left) had gone skydiving for his daughter Raya’s (pictured right) birthday when he nearly lost his life
Mr Rantall and Mr Toepfer had overtaken Raya going 200km/h with no way to slow themselves down.
‘I was just saying “trust God” and that was my last memory. I don’t remember the impact at all,’ Mr Rantall said.
His fall was cushioned by Mr Toepfer – an extremely experienced skydiver who had completed more than 6,000 jumps – who turned at the last second and put himself between Mr Rantall and the ground.
‘It still gets to me that Arron sacrificed his life so I can live. I personally believe it is a miracle that I’m alive,’ Mr Rantall said.
The primary and backup chutes both failed to open (pictured) and the pair had no way of slowing their descent
Mr Rantall was rushed to hospital and underwent surgery for a dislocated hip (pictured)
Mr Rantall spent two weeks in hospital (pictured) and is learning to walk again a month after his brush with death during a skydive
He spent two weeks in hospital with a dislocated hip, bleeding to his spleen and left kidney, and several broken bones.
His wife Berni Rantall posted a tribute to Mr Toepfer who did not survive as her husband recovered.
‘Thinking and praying for the instructor’s family… he was a true hero and such a brave young man,’ she wrote.
Mr Toepfer was remembered as a friendly and generous man who loved his profession.
‘Arron was always willing to help and would give you the shirt off his back if he could … he will be sorely missed,’ owner of the skydive company Ralph Hamilton-Presgrave told the Herald Sun.
Mr Rantall is learning to walk again and still relies heavily on a wheelchair but both he and his family are counting their blessings.
Asked whether he will skydive Mr Rantall said he ‘wouldn’t put my wife through that again’.
Mr Rantall said he believes it’s a ‘miracle’ he survived and praised Mr Toepfer who ‘sacrificed himself’ to save his life