Jeffrey Sapinza and fiancee.

It’s a couple of days before Christmas and the sky’s a classic blue, so bright it hurts and cloudless. I’m in Perris, California with a family determined to go sky diving together. Hanging out in the waiting lounge after watching the training videos, the man sitting next to me starts explaining why he’s there.  Both of his feet are wrapped in bandages and thick, blue prosthetic boots reach up from his soles to calves. A pair of crutches are perched on the couch when we start commiserating about how long a wait it’ll be before his skydiving plane takes off. Yes, he’s planning on going skydiving.

Dave Rudie and Coral Rudie

Dave Rudie and Coral Rudie ready to jump.

Last July Jeffrey was in a motorcycle accident. It nearly killed him. He showed me a cell phone picture taken a few minutes before the truck hit him. Taken into the sun, there are glowing rays surround his head and in the ground behind him is a cross. As Jeffrey says, ”You get closer to God” when you have an experience like his.

Jeffrey was riding alone after visiting his mom in Hemet that afternoon. He doesn’t remember the crash. A 911 emergency call brought a Medivac helicopter to him in the ravine. Once on board he says he met Jesus. First he saw his back and hair. A moment later Jesus was pouring water over his mangled legs and the pain disappeared before he blacked out again. When he woke up in the hospital, pins and metal were attached to his legs.

Over 28 days he faced daunting surgeries but refused to accept the prognosis that he’d never walk again. In the Manor House convalescent hospital he worked with physical therapists and started complaining about the food. Soon the nutritionist was at his bedside. “I’m picky about things and was upset. We got talking and laughing. Over the next couple of months we fell in love.” They were engaged just before Christmas.

Today Jeffrey has resumed his position with Mercedes in Beverly Hills. He’s planning Christmas with his mom and new fiancee, but first he’s interested in skydiving. It would too easy to say he’s an adrenalin junkie, but there’s more going on. His Christmas gift has already gone out for the driver who hit him. “It was an accident,” Jeffrey says and he won’t be suing anybody. Today he’s considering one more close encounter with his maker by jumping out of an airplane.

Elaine flying

This was so much fun!

Sky diving’s not for everyone. (I opted for indoor skydiving. )

I’ll be watching my family sky dive from the ground and as it turns out, so will Jeffrey. His physical therapist didn’t sign off on the jump. It’s still a stunning Southern California winter day and we’ll both have to feel close to our maker with feet on the ground.

If you’re interested in diving and in Southern California, check out

Indoor Sky Diving