Photo: Courtesy of Dave Hartsock
Hartsock's quick thinking saved Dygert's life. While she sustained some injuries, she recovered and is able to function normally. But Hartsock paid a monumental price. The fall paralyzed him from the neck down, most likely permanently, and he now needs help to do things as basic as getting dressed or taking a bath. Dygert, who has kept in touch with Hartsock since the accident, sometimes tears up when she thinks about what a sacrifice her instructor made for her, saying, "How can somebody have that much love for another person?"
Would Hartsock have made the same heroic choice if he'd known what was going to happen to him? Absolutely, he says. "When people do a tandem, they don't know about body position—they're just looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Shirley sure didn't know how to do it without hurting herself. Better me than her."