A local skydiver is hitting a major milestone Monday, marking his 500th jump with one arm.
A skydiving accident seven years ago left him with eight broken bones and the loss of his left arm.
At 48, Tommy Fergerson had been skydiving for five years and was even an instructor at High Sky Adventures.
“Everything seemed to be going fine other than the winds were pushing out of the south,” Fergerson said.
In 2011, he was on his 343rd jump when something went wrong.
“I got a 180-degree turn from the wind,” Fergerson said. “It started coming up my back and a downdraft at the same time. And I was going extremely fast coming in on the landing. The last thing I remember is, ‘Oh, I don’t want to hit that trailer.'”
But he did, with the crash breaking eight bones and eventually costing him his left arm.
That wouldn’t keep him out of the sky as he jumped again just eight weeks after his accident.
“At that particular time, there was no one else in the world jumping with one arm,” Fergerson said. “I’m actually literally the first one-armed skydiver in the world without the use of a prosthetic.”
Fergerson and his wife, Cathy, wanted to help others like him who are facing tough times. They started their nonprofit, Clasp Life, in 2012.
“We want to help people keep their passion and independence, and that’s what Clasp Life does, by help finding them resources to do so, due to a tragedy or incident or accident or just maybe life events in general,” Fergerson said.
Fergerson is still a skydiving instructor, but he now focuses on working with his students and other amputees.
“It’s not about an adrenaline rush,” Fergerson said. “It’s more about just watching other people you know, break down obstacles that they don’t want to deal with anymore.”
He hopes others can learn from his experience and “clasp life” every day.
“Hold on to life, you know,” Fergerson said. “You can still live. Just because you have a tragedy or something like that. It’s not what defines you, that’s what you do thereafter, and that’s how I look at it.”
Since his accident, Fergerson has made with more than 800 jumps.