Man chutes for his 15 minutes - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Man chutes for his 15 minutes

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Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2005 6:18 am | Updated: 9:17 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

For David Nunn, the worst aspect of his parachute jump at Saguaro Lake wasn’t that he crashed into a cliff.

Nor was the worst aspect that he shattered a foot, snapped a shin, broke 12 ribs, suffered a concussion or sustained cuts and deep bruises across his arms, torso, buttocks and legs.

No, the worst aspect was that his girlfriend only got half of his misadventure on videotape.

Marji Thussen filmed Nunn leaping off a 700-foot cliff on June 20, but when he flew into a rock wall seven seconds into his descent, she dropped her camera.

The footage turned out to be a cliff-hanger. The last image of Nunn shows him flopping on a rock outcropping hundreds of feet above ground.

There’s no excuse for such shoddy camera work, Nunn said Tuesday from his bed at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital. He specifically told Thussen to

keep him in the viewfinder when he jumps — period.

"For all these years I’ve been telling her how to do this stuff and she just doesn’t get it," he said.

"She just doesn’t seem to understand that dead is dead. At this particular time, this is the grand finale. No matter what happens, you have to get it on film. She just doesn’t get it."

Nunn, a restaurant manager from Topanga Canyon, Calif., said low-altitude parachuting is life-affirming, at least until that grand finale.

"When you step off, it’s an instant adrenaline rush and it makes you know that you’re very much alive. And if you hit something, it’s going to really, really hurt," he said.

Thussen’s video opens with a shot of the cliff under lovely blue skies. Then Nunn dives from the top with his arms outstretched. He falls 1 1 /2 seconds and his parachute ruffles open.

Then he swoops to his left into the cliff. He yells, flops and — the view switches to Thussen’s feet.

"Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! David!" Thussen yells.

"Dave, you alright?" yells friend Keith Jones.

"David! David! Oh my God, Keith. Oh my God. Oh God," Thussen says.

"Dave, talk to me," Jones yells.

What the video doesn’t show is the rest of Nunn’s descent. When he hit the ridge, he flipped forward and his legs got tangled in the parachute’s cords, he said.

A gust of wind pulled him off the ridge and he skimmed down head-first 150 feet or so. Then he struck a boulder with his back. He grabbed rocks and gravel to keep from falling the final 150 feet.

Rescue workers, for whom he said he’s overwhelmingly grateful, scaled the cliff and strapped him to a stretcher.

Nunn, 48, plans a save of his own. A TV news crew shot footage of the rescue. With proper editing, he can stitch together a lively video. Marketable, too.

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