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Man on skydive leads dying instructor down

Daniel Pharr's military training taught him not to panic during his landing, tethered to a dying instructor. Once on the ground, the 25-year-old performed CPR on the man, who later died. Daniel Pharr's military training taught him not to panic during his landing, tethered to a dying instructor. Once on the ground, the 25-year-old performed CPR on the man, who later died. (Associated Press)
February 3, 2009
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COLUMBIA, S.C. - Strapped to his dying instructor a few thousand feet from the ground on his first skydive, Daniel Pharr found himself floating toward a house and some trees.

The military taught the 25-year-old soldier not to panic. And TV taught him to pull the toggles on the already-deployed parachute to steer.

So Pharr grabbed the right handle and pulled to avoid the house and tugged again to miss the trees, landing safely in a field about a third of a mile from their intended landing spot.

Pharr said he wrestled out of the harness binding him to his instructor, George "Chip" Steele, and started CPR trying to save him from an apparent heart attack.

Steele was later pronounced dead, but the tragedy could have been worse: Other instructors at the skydiving school told Pharr if he had pulled the toggle too hard, the chute would have spun out of control, and he could be dead, too.

"They told me afterward that it was amazing that I knew to do that. This is my survival instinct at that point. I just kind of did what I had to do," said Pharr, taking a break Monday from his job at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga.

The jump was a Christmas gift from Pharr's girlfriend. The two went to Skydive Carolina in Chester on Saturday to jump from 13,500 feet in the air while attached to instructors.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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