Accidents happening in common sports can be bad. Accidents and injuries in extreme sports can be life threatening. Andy Wirth, a lifetime extreme sports enthusiast and CEO of Squaw Valley Ski Holdings, found that out after joining an extreme team in a skydiving adventure.
A perfect storm of flight path changes, headwinds, and a new landing zone, made this jump over Perris, CA one that would change Andy’s life forever. Unexpected air conditions caused him to open his chute at only 2,500 ft. instead of the preferred 4,000. He came in fast, with the choice of landing on power lines, or a tall vineyard. His body hit a pole, and slammed into rough brush.
When Andy’s senses returned he knew how far he was from the other divers, as well as, the severity of the accident. Though he had cheated death, his right arm was torn-off at the shoulder. Immediately, he did everything he could to stop the immense bleeding and the possibility of shock.
Andy attributes he levelheadedness in the situation with the Pearl Jam song “Just Breathe.” It reminded him of the fine line between losing control, and having perfect control in any emergency. The truth is, his extensive training as an EMT also provided the knowledge he needed to survive until a rescue arrived. Minus one limb, he completely recovered.
The accident hasn’t slowed Andy Wirth down as an athlete, or businessman. He participates in team bike racing and running. The focus now is education and charity. Since his recovery, he has raised over $40,000 for the Navy SEAL Foundation. At work, he has helped to finalize and implement a world class gondola connecting the bases of two of the Tahoe area’s most popular mountains. This project will connect the Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resorts, and open over 6,000 new acres for other sports enthusiast.