Skydiver who crashed making strides in recovery

Lexington, Ky., man was seriously injured during a jump at Middletown’s Hook Field.

MIDDLETOWN — After spending nearly three weeks in a Dayton hospital recovering from a debilitating accident, a 29-year-old skydiver is beginning to regain control of his mind and body.

Justin Hammons, of Lexington, Ky., was transferred from Miami Valley Hospital to the Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital in Lexington late last week. His father, Jeff, said Hammons is undergoing speech and physical therapy.

“I’m being a dad sometimes and being a pal other times,” he said. “He’s just going to push and do anything he can to get out of there sooner.”

Hammons was flown to Miami Valley in critical condition March 6, after a “hook turn” maneuver gone awry during a skydive. The move reportedly caused him to descend at a high rate of speed during his landing, at which point he struck the ground.

He suffered trauma to the head, broken eye sockets and an upper jaw bone, a broken femur that actually protruded from his left leg and excessive bruising during the accident.

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As a result of the massive head trauma Justin experienced, he is “sometimes a little groggy and sometimes a little more with you,” his father said.

“He’s with us maybe 20 percent of the time and gaining,” Jeff said. “Compared to four or five days ago, when he maybe had one eye open and could only say ‘uh-huh’ and ‘uh-uh,’ he’s really making progress.”

Doctors say he could be recovering anywhere from nine weeks to nine months. His father said he is still being fed via a tube, though he is almost well enough to swallow on his own.

“It’s just another step in the process,” he said. “We’re doing a whole lot more steps forward than back.”

Hammons has been a member of Middletown-based Team Fastrax for three years and completed nearly 2,000 jumps, according to founder John Hart, who said injuries in the sport are “often the result of multiple errors, not just one.”

Hammons started out as a pilot, but eventually transitioned to skydiving after trying it on a dare. “He fell in love with it and sold the airplane,” Jeff Hammons said.

Justin Hammons was running a small computer business out of Kentucky from Monday to Thursday, then would shift his focus to skydiving from Friday until Monday.

He was averaging as many of 40 jumps a week, said Jeff, who said he is confident his son will return to the sport.

“Knowing Justin, as soon as he gets an opportunity he’ll be out there,” he said. “And I will take him wherever it is and watch. It wasn’t what he was doing that got him hurt, it was how he did it.”

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