MEXBOROUGH student nurse Helen Geilhardt decided to cure her fear of heights by taking on a charity parachute jump...
But she then watched in horror, as her pal PLUNGED to earth in a “Roman Candle” – when her chute failed to open!
Roz Barnwell was saved only by a reserve chute, after the pair leapt from a plane, 20,000ft above Oxford on Saturday.
Helen, 28, was relived when her parachute deployed perfectly.
But Roz’s became tangled, sending her plummeting in a spin towards the ground.
Roz’s instructor – strapped on behind her – had to pull on the emergency cord to save them, as they free-falled to earth.
Helen and Roz were doing the jump to raise cash to beat lymphatic cancer – from which Roz is currently in remission.
Roz told the Times: “It was absolutely terrifying when we went into freefall.
“We landed in a nearby field and I’ve never been so relieved to be back down on the ground.
“I was very shaken up. But it was also very exhilarating, and it hasn’t put me off.
“I would do it again.”
While Roz – from Birmingham – was struggling with her parachute, her friend Helen was looking on in horror... while drifting towards the ground more sedately.
Helen said: “I can just remember seeing her main parachute float off into another field.
“I was thinking: ‘why is she going into the wrong field?’.
“I was obviously extremely worried – you certainly don’t want anything going wrong when you’re travelling towards the ground at that speed.
“After we landed they told us some cords had become tangled. Roz was a bit shaken up by it, but I was just glad it wasn’t anything worse.
“She must have nine lives!”
Helen was inspired to take the jump by both Roz and her step-mum Sylvia Tweed, who is also in remission from Lymphoma – the UK’s fifth most common form of cancer.
She said: “I am frightened of heights, and have been for as long as I can remember.
“But I thought of what Roz and Sylvia have gone through, and I thought if they can do that, then surely I can do this.”
Helped by pals at the Mexborough Sunday League, Helen raised around £500 for the Lymphoma Association, a charity that supports those affected by the disease.
* The “Roman candle” is the most dangerous parachuting situation. The cords of the chute become twisted, sending the parachutist spiralling to earth like a firework.