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A Hornchurch father and son will skydive together - two years after the older man broke his neck in a parachute disaster

18:00 06 April 2014

Kane Blackledge with his mum Susanne and dad Lee

Kane Blackledge with his mum Susanne and dad Lee

Archant

A brave teenager is to jump out of a plane for charity – two years after his dad broke his neck when his skydive ended in disaster.

Lee Blackledge, of 
Savoy Grove, Hornchurch, cracked five vertebrae in his back and neck, and broke all his ribs, when a strong gust of wind threw him earthbound, headfirst, during a miscalculated landing while parachuting in Florida, US, with friends.

The self-confessed adrenaline junkie, 49, who missed paralysis by 2mm, spent three days in intensive care in America following the crash.

Lee was flown home and underwent surgery at the neurology unit at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, where he also spent a further four weeks recuperating.

The dad-of-two made a near-full recovery and, when he asked his family, including wife Susanne and sons, Kane, 15, and Beau, 10, whether he could return to the sport he loved, they all agreed.

But his eldest son had one condition.

“Kane said ‘only if I can on my 16th birthday’,” said Susanne. “He wanted to raise money for children’s charity Little Havens Hospice.

“I’m more nervous about Kane doing this than my husband, but I’m also so proud.”

Kane is now booked in to take his first dive on June 5, his birthday, and hopes to raise at least £1,000 for the charity.

Lee will jump with him.

Lee, who owns Tiptoes shoe repair and gift shop, in High Street, Hornchurch, said: “I’m fine with Kane doing the doing the skydive; he’ll be up there with highly-experienced tandem jumpers who do this on a daily basis.

“Although I am a bit protective; it’s a primal instinct.”

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Seven people have also been injured in the crash which has been declared a “major incident”.

The service was inundated with offers of help, but has said its supplies are “adequate”.

“They were more than just police officers – they were a son, they were a husband, and they were a dad.”

The incident happened in George Square, close to Queen Street Station.