The odds of surviving a 25-foot fall, I've heard, are one in 100. My own 32-foot tumble happened in August 1993, when we were sheathing the 4 /12 truss roof of a three-story apartment my company was building. I'd just cut the first sheet of plywood, laid it down on the roof framing, and was about to start nailing it off when the sheet started to slide. I have no memory of the accident itself because of the injuries I sustained, but I've been told that I somehow got both feet on the sheet when I tried to stamp one foot on it to stop it from sliding. I lost my balance and slid right off the roof with the plywood under me.

I could have landed in the middle of a pile of broken concrete and construction debris. But instead I landed on my side on the only bare patch of ground around. My hip hit first, fracturing my pelvis; then my back, breaking seven ribs on my right side and puncturing a lung; then my shoulder, fracturing my clavicle; and then my head, breaking...

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