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Skydiver, local doctor on 20/20 Friday

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Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013 1:00 pm

When expert skydiver Craig Stapleton stepped out of a plane flying above the Lodi Airport in March, the jump was routine — until his main parachute didn’t deploy and his back-up chute got stuck in its strings.

Stapleton believed he was living the final two minutes of his life while he plummeted to earth from 8,000 feet in the sky.

His botched skydive with surprising results will be featured on a special “20/20” TV report airing on ABC today at 7 p.m. It includes an interview with a local emergency room doctor.

After the incident, Stapleton, who lives in Sacramento, was taken to the Lodi Memorial Hospital emergency room. There, after running a series of medical tests, Dr. Rusty Oshita determined that the skydiver had no broken bones or internal bleeding, and therefore would not require surgery.

Miraculously, the only injuries Stapleton suffered were a dislocated shoulder and some bumps and bruises.

Neither Stapleton nor Oshita, whose interview is part of the report titled “Botched,” could be reached Thursday.

Stapleton, who has mastered some 7,000 skydiving jumps, freefell from the sky at an estimated 30 mph and landed in an Acampo vineyard only inches from metal stakes used to hold up vines.

When they landed, jumping partner Katie Nelson figured her friend was dead. But when she sprinted over to Stapleton, she noticed that his head was sticking up, and he was both breathing and conscious.

“I hurt quite a bit and in my mind, I thought, ‘That’s a really good sign,’” Stapleton told ABC News earlier this year. “‘That’s a good thing.’ And then I tried to get up.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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