Joan Murray (skydiver)

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Joan Murray (born 1955)[1] is an American bank executive and former skydiver who was severely injured during a parachute landing and was subsequently bitten over 200 times by fire ants. She shared an account of her experience with People Magazine.[1] The article by People claims "Her doctors think the stings may have shocked her heart enough to keep it beating", however no other public evidence for this claim has been presented besides the article by People.

Murray lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and worked for Bank of America. She occasionally skydived before her accident.[2] On September 25, 1999,[1] she went on a skydive from 14,500 feet. She experienced a main-parachute malfunction, though sources don't specify what the malfunction was. Her reserve parachute opened at 700 feet but supposedly deflated.[better source needed] She approached the ground at 80 miles per hour (128 kilometers per hour)[better source needed], landing on a mound of fire ants.[better source needed] claims that doctors believe that the shock of being stung over 200 times by the ants released a surge of adrenaline which kept her heart beating.[3][better source needed]

Murray suffered serious injuries, shattering the right side of her body and knocking fillings out of her teeth. She went into a coma for two weeks at Carolinas Medical Center,[1] but survived after 20 reconstructive surgeries and 17 blood transfusions.[2] She continued work at Bank of America after the accident, turning down retirement because of disability. She took physical therapy sessions and went on a 37th skydive in 2001.[2]

Murray's story has been the subject of multiple articles online, due to the dramatic nature of the experience, and the extraordinary claim in the People article stating "(Her doctors think the stings may have shocked her heart enough to keep it beating.)".[1] Currently the only direct public evidence for this claim is the article, and it has not received public support from any medical professional, organization, or publication.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Beating the Odds". People. 2002-07-25. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  2. ^ a b c Rothaker, Rick (August 5, 2002). "Skydive Survivor is in "People"". Star-News. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  3. ^ Beating the Odds By Christina Cheakalos, Richard Jerome, Samantha Miller Vol. 58 No. 6 - Meet Seven Lucky Americans Who Know What It's Like to Come Back from the Brink