The tranquility of Thanksgiving morning was suddenly broken at about 9:30 a.m. on Oahu's North Shore when a skydiver struck a high-voltage power line near Farrington Highway in Mokuleia and dangled for several intense moments.
Boyfriend and girlfriend Mike Valencia and Kelsey Skaggs were beginning their day at a weekend rental home just off the highway when a relative noticed a skydiver coming in at a weird angle.
"My boyfriend's father was actually trying to get a shot of the parachuter coming down because he was really close to the house," said Skaggs. "He was like, 'He's way too low, he's way too low,' and all of a sudden he hits the power line and pops go off and we all ran outside."
Valencia said his jaw dropped when he ran outside to see what had caused the loud crash.
"I came here to check it out and a skydiver is just dangling in the wires," said Valencia. "He was moving and kicking, but there's no sparks."
After several intense moments, the skydiver was able to shake himself loose. Firefighters on the scene estimate he fell about 30 feet to the ground below.
Guy Banal, the owner of Pacific Skydiving, identified the skydiver as 26-year-old Jonathan Zar. He said Zar has been working for the company for the past three months, and described him as an expert parachutist.
"He was coming down and the wind changed direction," said Banal. "He's still not used to the conditions out here."
Witnesses say Zar appeared to have suffered a burn to his left arm. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
"He said he's OK," said Valencia. "He started to move a little bit and he said he had a bum shoulder. He was just pretty spooked out with the whole situation."
The power line that Zar struck was charged with 12,000 volts, according to Hawaiian Electric Company. Experts say if Zar had touched a second high-voltage line, or became grounded, it likely would have meant instant death.
"He was talking and able to answer questions," said Skaggs. "It's Thanksgiving and thank God he's OK."
Several homes in the area lost power when Zar struck the line. When it appeared the skydiver would survive, concern in the neighborhood turned to Thanksgiving dinner. Mokuleia resident Sue Chin had a 19-pound turkey in the oven that still had two hours to go.
"A very raw turkey for 10 people that are supposed to arrive at 2 o'clock," said Chin. "We'll see what happens; we're hoping that HECO is going to repair everything."
Residents and those renting beach homes were surprised by the speediness of the repairs. Hawaii Electric crews restored power in less than an hour.
"This is the first time we've had anybody that's hit a (power) line, so he's got a lot to be grateful for," said Chin.