Skydiver speaks after mid-air collision

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-31 00:21:03-04

A skydiver who collided with another man mid-air in Zephyrhills last week is now speaking out. They both jumped from a plane more than 14,000 feet in the air.

“I feel very fortunate to be alive,” Sebastian Leal, 23, said.

This was Leal's 402nd jump. What he calls a "freak accident" happened about five seconds after he left the plane.

“My next memory is lying on the ground in pain,” he said.

Leal couldn't move his legs. He fractured four vertebrae when he hit power lines on the way down. He landed on the side of County Road 54, three-and-a-half miles from his drop zone. For now he's paralyzed from the waist down.

Despite his injuries, Leal says he feels only gratitude.

“I am very thankful to the person who reacted as quickly as they did and called the police. They saved my life," Leal said.

Leal lives in Mexico and was here on vacation. He heads to Atlanta on Thursday for weeks of rehabilitation. But he isn't giving up on skydiving.

“There are other sky divers who have been handicapped and who have been able to get back on their wing suits, which is inspiring to me. And I hope that I serve as an inspiration for others as well,” Leal said.

He hopes he'll soar again soon.  

“I am optimistic that one day I will fly a wing suit again,” Leal said.