Miss World contender reunites with rescuers after horrific accident
Against all odds Brisbane student Stephanie Campbell has the Miss World Australia crown set firmly in her sights.
The 24 year old was named a National Finalist in the pageant just nine weeks after a horrific skydiving accident almost claimed her life at Toogoolawah in South-East Queensland.
Caught in cross winds during a routine skydive on 16 March, Stephanie, an experienced skydiver, knew she was in trouble when she encountered turbulent air.
Three metres above land and travelling at a speed of between 55-60km/h her parachute collapsed and she ploughed into the rock bed, landing awkwardly on her back.
“The whole scenario unfolded very quickly. I remember hitting the earth and then opening my eyes and seeing grass, dirt and legs as other skydivers ran towards me to help. The pain in my wrist was terrible and it was really difficult to breathe and just stay focused,” she said.
Miss Campbell broke 75% of the vertebrae in her mid-back, six ribs, her right wrist, collapsed both lungs and sustained a severe concussion and haematoma in her right eye.
An RACQ CareFlight Rescue team was immediately called out to airlift her to Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Despite the pain Stephanie remained conscious following her accident.
“I remember hearing the people around me say that CareFlight had arrived and thinking to myself ‘Steph, you’re going to be okay now’. The crew was lovely and very reassuring,” she said.
Jeff Bradfield, Queensland Ambulance Service Intensive Care Flight Paramedic for CareFlight who treated Stephanie at the scene, said she was lucky to survive the accident.
“She was in pretty bad shape. I was concerned about Stephanie’s injuries, particularly as they were spinal,” Jeff said.
Miss Campbell was confined to a spinal bed unable to move for five days, but miraculously walked out of hospital after just five more days of bed rest and the aid of a spinal brace.
“Waiting to get better was tough,” she said.
“I didn’t know from one day to the next if I would get back to normal.
“But celebrating small improvements each day really helped me to remain hopeful.
It was that kind of optimism that compelled Stephanie to enter the Miss World Australia pageant just two weeks into her recovery.
“I wanted to set myself a significant challenge to motivate me to get better as quickly as possible,” Ms Campbell said.
“Living a life of gratitude is really important, and Miss World Australia is all about encouraging young women to give back to their community through fundraising and raising awareness for charity in keeping with their ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ philosophy.
“I was incredibly lucky to escape paralysis and surgery so I thought if I could use my experience to help shine a light on the work of fantastic organisations like RACQ CareFlight Rescue, I wanted to be involved.”
At the time of rescue, the crew weren’t aware of Stephanie’s pageant ambitions.
“To the best of my knowledge, Stephanie is the first pageant queen we’ve flown to. We airlift all sorts of people, from the elderly and frail through to newborns,” Jeff Bradfield said.
Stephanie will now face an action-packed two months of preparation in the lead up to the crowning ceremony where she will be tested on fitness, fundraising, modelling, public speaking and talent on saxophone.
The National Finals for Miss World Australia will be held from 24-27 July at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort in the Hunter Valley.
If she wins the title she will represent Australia, alongside delegates from 120 other countries at the Miss World pageant in either London or the Philippines.