Laverne Everett, 80, talks about terrifying skydiving jump

9:57 AM, May 28, 2012   |    comments
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LODI, CA (CBS13) - It was Laverne Everett's sister who posted her skydiving video on YouTube to share with family from out-of-state, not knowing that Laverne would become an Internet sensation.

She is the newest star in the latest video that's gone viral overnight.

"I just wanted to do it," Laverne said laughing.

This daredevil is 81 years old.

Laverne, who lives in a modest studio apartment in small California town of Oakdale, says she craves a little excitement once in a while. So in 2011 for her 80th birthday she decided to jump out of a plane, much to the surprise of her family.

"They thought I was very brave," said Laverne. "But, it's just something I've wanted to do for a long time."

Last May, Laverne did just that at the Sky Dive Lodi Parachute Center in Acampo. Her jump out of that plane, and the moments before, were all caught on tape.

"Once you get on that edge, that's another story," said Laverne.

As you watch the video, you see what appears to be Laverne clutching the plane for dear life, but she says her bad knees actually gave out. Then, the instructor behind her grabs her hand.

But looking at the video, it appears that Laverne was being forced out of that plane. She doesn't see it that way.

"No, I don't look at it that way," said Laverne. "He knew how bad I wanted to jump."

When she did finally jump, something went terribly wrong and Laverne was suddenly dangling in mid-air.

"The upper harness came off, you know. Just slipped down, it was just the lower harness, is all I had."

Laverne says her shirt flew up against her face so she couldn't see a thing and didn't realize exactly what happened until she saw the video for herself.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Friday it is now investigating the incident.

The Parachute Center has had several accidents in recent history.

A woman skydiving with the center in 2009 lost control and plunged straight toward Highway 99 before slamming into a power pole.

Months later, Robbie Bigley and Barb Cutty died while performing a formation jump because their parachutes became entangled.

In April, experienced skydiver William Calho plunged to his death in a vineyard. It marked at least the eighth death for the company in 10 years.

"Statistically, nationally for the number of jumps we do, we're as safe as any other place," said Parachute Center owner Bill Dause following Calho's death.

The FAA has proposed more than $900,000 in fines against his company in the past year and a half for safety concerns with the company's planes.

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