By John Balson @JJBalson

TWO base-jumpers who broke their backs after a horrific 500ft fall have made a remarkable recovery - and started JUMPING again

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Videographer / Director: Austin Carey, Jay Rawe
Producer: John Balson
Editor: Joshua Douglas

Horror fall: Austin Carey, 23, and Jay Rawe, 25, lie motionless after a 500ft plunge from the Perrine Bridge in Idaho

Austin Carey, 23, and Jay Rawe, 25, plummeted onto a riverbank when their parachutes tangled at the Perrine Bridge, Idaho.

They had been attempting a risky 'totem pole waterfall' manoeuvre when Jay lost his balance and pulled out his friend's parachute and landed inside of it.

Stunned spectators - who recorded the near-fatal fall - could only gasp in horror as they spiralled onto the beach below.

Both suffered multiple injuries including fractures to the spine - and Austin was told he might not walk again.

Unbalanced: Jay loses his balance and accidently gets his foot stuck on Austin's parachute
Falling down: Austin and Jay plunge to the ground infront of horrified spectators

But after almost a year of intensive recovery, both men have returned to the sport they love.

And last month - almost a year to the day - Austin retraced his steps by successfully base jumping again from the Perrine Bridge.

He said: "It was such an amazing feeling to be back there after everything I had been through and all the work I have put into making my dream of jumping again a reality.

"Because of what happened to Jay and me I've accepted death as a possibility - but I can't dream of a life without doing what I love."

Austin, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, has no memory of the crushing fall on March 24 last year, but Jay remembers it clearly.

He said: "I remember standing on Austin's shoulders and getting ready while our friends held him there. 

Facing fears: A base jumper prepares to leap from a bridge in West Virginia, moments before Jay's first jump after recovering

"Austin gave the 3-2-1 countdown and I remember falling backwards and trying to jump onto the handrail, missing it, hitting the diving board and starting to flip.

"I grabbed his pilot chute and tried to unwrap his bridle from around my leg. I then landed in his parachute, looked up and saw the sky above me and his canopy flapping around.

"The sound was significantly different from any other base jump and I remember thinking how I needed to get out of that position. 

"I kicked my feet over my head, fell out, and remember spinning at the ground as it got closer and knowing that we were gonna hit. 

Tangle and crash: Jay struggles to recover his position as the base jumpers plummet towards the beach
Out of time: Jay and Austin's parachutes still haven't opened - with the ground rapidly approaching

"Next thing I remember is waking up and sitting upright to catch the breath that had been knocked out of me. There were people all around, calling the emergency services, making sure we were staying still.

Brace for impact: Austin looks up and realises something has gone wrong with the jump
Collapse: Jay flattens the canopy of Austin's parachute, causing them both to fall to the ground

"Next we were at the hospital and they put me down for surgery and then I woke up with friends in the room.

"Seeing it on film the first few times made my stomach drop out like I was riding a roller-coaster."

Jay suffered a burst fracture of the L1 vertebrae, damage to the T12 and L3 and a sprained right ankle in which the ligament was completely 'torn off the bone'.

Austin's were even more serious. His injuries included a burst fracture of the L1 vertebrae, an incomplete spinal cord injury and his T12 vertebrae was almost split in half. 

The pair, who had done almost 500 base-jumps between them, underwent emergency 10-hour surgeries which included Austin having a thumbnail-sized piece of bone remove from his spinal cord and Jay having his T12 and L3 vertebrae fused with titanium.

Final prayers: Stunned spectators could only gasp in horror as the pair spiralled down

The road to recovery was even more painful - especially for Austin.

While Jay, from Florida, battled back onto his feet within a few weeks Austin faced the prospect of never walking again.

He spent three months in a back brace and seven months in a wheelchair, taking every opportunity to workout in his high-school swimming pool to strengthen his body.

Recovery: Austin lies in hospital after surgery to repair broken bones in his spine

He said: "The recovery process was insane. At first I could barely get out of bed because of the pain. The whole time I would feel severe nerve pain that would make me scream in agony for hours. It felt as though someone was holding a taser to my legs."

Rawe deal: Jay Rawe's scar heals after undergoing 10 hours of surgery to repair his spine

Austin was treated at the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Hospital, Idaho and Jay at St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center, Twin Falls and Tampa General Hospital, Florida. 

With the support of clinicians, physical therapists and their family and friends, they have made dramatic recoveries and returned to the sport that nearly claimed their lives.

But it has led to a few raised eyebrows.

Long road ahead: Austin Carey relaxes in bed as he starts his journey to learning how to walk again

For Austin, whose father died in a motorbike accident when he was two-weeks-old, his mother is his biggest concern.

"She is the strongest, most giving person I will ever meet," said the fitness coach, who plans to move into wing-suit base jumping.

"If something happened to me again I can't imagine what she would go through. But she knows how much this means to me and how much joy it gives me."

Jay, who began base jumping again in October 2014 at Fayetteville, West Virginia, also has no plans to put down his parachute.

"Giving it up never really seemed like an option to me," he said.

"My family would like me to stop out of the fear that I will injure myself again - but life is too short to not do the things that I love."