This article was published in this month’s Cross & Crescent (June 2008).
I felt it worth sharing here on our site, as it shows the true depth of self-sacrifice. May Brother Robert Cook (Missouri S&T 2007) be an inspiration to us all.
On July 29, 2006, an Australian woman, Kimberley Dear, was to have made her first skydive in the United States. But when engine failure caused the plane to plummet to the ground minutes after take-off, Robert Cook (Missouri S&T 2007), her instructor, clipped his skydive harness to hers and demanded she use his body as a human shield. He was killed on impact.
Robert Cook (Missouri S&T 2007)The 22-year-old Cook, a skydiving fanatic and civil engineering student at the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla), had clocked up 1,727 jumps and earned every possible United States Parachute Association certificate.
In the mere seconds it took for the plane to fall, Cook turned to Dear and told her to focus on his instructions. He clipped his harness to hers and told her to brace herself using his body to cushion the fall.
Cook then whispered words of comfort to her and was a voice of calm as the Twin Otter aircraft crashed just minutes after take-off from the Sullivan airstrip near St Louis, Missouri.
His actions saved her life but cost him his own. Cook, the pilot and four other passengers were killed in the crash. Dear survived the crash but suffered spinal injuries, a broken pelvis, and other injuries.
“There aren’t many people who would put their life on the line for a stranger — you might do it for the people you love but would you do it for someone you just met?” Dear told reporters in 2006 about Cook’s heroic efforts.
“He was an amazing person and he was going to go on to do amazing things himself but now he can’t,” she said. “I am 100% certain he could have taken measures to save his own life but he didn’t. He saved mine.”