Swaddled in bandages, bleary-eyed, and confused Eugenio Dominguez awakes in a hospital bed. His mother is there next to him. She gently tells Eugenio there has been an accident. In that instant, panic washes over Eugenio. He remembers the pilot of the Comp Air giving the two-minute call…nothing else. Quickly, he asks his mother if his other friends who were also on the jump are okay. She tells him they are.
Accidents happen, and in our sport, the ramifications can be devastating. Thankfully, on an unassuming Wednesday, a little over 10 years ago, CYPRES prevented this from being the case and was able to save two lives. This is the story of that day.
Eugenio completed his AFF course at Skydive Andes, and the dropzone was his second home. “Every Friday, I waited to pack my truck with my parachute and my sleeping bag to go and have a great time with my friends” For Eugenio, visiting the dropzone was his “go-to” on almost every weekend. The jump itself was nothing out of the ordinary. Eugenio says “It was an organized sunset jump on a Wednesday evening. Though I was working, I got permission to leave to make it to the dropzone in time for one or two jumps.” Eugenio continues: “We always briefed before jumps, and the other jumpers were very experienced.”
The “rabbit” or leader was an experienced jumper with over 3,000 skydives under his belt named Nicolas. Tracking was not a new discipline for Eugenio. He recalls: “Tracking jumps are jumps I loved to do. At this point, I’d done 150 jumps.”
This jump did not go as expected. As Eugenio remembers, “On this jump, I confused the leader in the jump, and I followed the wrong person. I didn’t see Nicolas and I crashed into him. We were both knocked unconscious and fell 3,000 meters. We both have CYPRES and they fired at the same time. Nicolas woke up just before landing. He had a chance to steer and flare. I impacted the ground unconscious, and I woke up the next day in the hospital after a full-face surgery and being seen by nine different doctors including a plastic surgeon, neurologist, otorhinolaryngologist, hepatologist, a nephrologist, and a maxillofacial surgeon.”
Eugenio had sustained several injuries including damage to his liver, kidney, and urethra. His face was crushed from the freefall collision. He had broken both cheekbones, nose, jaw, and eye socket. He had 7 plates and many screws and would spend a significant portion of time in intensive care. But Eugenio was alive and so was Nicolas.
Eugenio wholeheartedly believes that his home dropzone, Skydive Andes, and CYPRES are the reason why he made it out of the accident alive.
“It was a dropzone rule to have an AAD. When I was learning, there were two brands: CYPRES and Vigil. Everybody told me that CYPRES was better. I didn’t know too much. But I chose CYPRES and it worked very well. When I woke up, I wrote a letter thanking CYPRES for saving my life. Helmut Cloth even called me. He told me about the history of CYPRES, and we talked for 20 minutes.”
For Eugenio, the accident marks a pivotal point in his life: “When I had the accident, I was forced to slow down in my life. I traveled the world to find myself and who I wanted to be. I realized happiness is very important to me. I want others to enjoy and feel happy from their time with me. I want to appreciate every moment. I want to take advantage of every moment. I don’t want to waste time with petty things. I decided to make jokes—to have a great time and not worry about stupid things. I want people to know there will be problems and there will be accidents. Just don’t waste time. Go to the hills. Get Out. Enjoy nature and enjoy the world around you. There will come a day when you cannot.”
Though Eugenio is not currently skydiving, he did return to the sport for a brief time after healing from his injury and made his first jump back about 6 months after the accident: “I made 20 or 30 jumps, but after the continued concern expressed by my parents, I chose to stop.“ Skydiving still holds a particular amount of allure for Eugenio, and he confesses “Every time I see a skydiving video, I get the urge to jump again.”
These days Eugenio has his hands full. Construction on his home in Chile has just been completed. He has three young children (one of which was just 5 days old at the time of our interview), a beautiful wife, and a burgeoning career with his father’s company creating custom terraces and patios and developing bioclimatic pergolas. Each day Eugenio is thankful because he knows without his CYPRES he wouldn’t be here for any of it.
Did you also had an CYPRES save back in the days? We would be happy to share also your story here. Get in touch with us and share your experience.