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Dylan Smith



Teenage tumbling coach Dylan Smith spun and did a backflip as he fell four stories — and the mid-air gymnastics apparently saved his life.

“He’s alive and it’s basically a miracle,” said his father, Hugh Smith of North Smithfield. “He should be dead. It’s a 44-foot drop.”

Witnesses told police the football star and youth tumbling instructor was demonstrating to a group of 10- to 12-year-old girls a tumbling maneuver at the Superior Cheers gym when he landed against a door that swings open into nothing but air – four stories up. The door may have once led to a fire escape that has been removed from the granite facade of the former factory.

Dylan’s dad told reporter Russ Olivo of The Call local newspaper that his son’s training could be the only reason Dylan is still alive.

The 19-year-old told his father he instinctively did a backflip in mid-air, which enabled him to land on his feet behind the old Harris Mill on Main Street.

Smith suffered a fractured pelvis, dislocated hip, a ruptured spleen and punctured lungs. He’s listed in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital, but his dad is convinced he’ll make a full recovery.

Local police detective Lt. Eugene Jalette said the door was closed, but the impact of Smith’s body was apparently enough to force it open, allowing him to fall through. “The door was closed,” said Jalette. “It was nailed shut, too.”

Smith landed on an expanse of weed-strewn, crumbling pavement. Although he told police he didn’t remember striking the ground, rescue workers said he was conscious and alert all the way to the hospital.

Smith’s father said his son is in good spirits but he’s still undergoing tests at the hospital and “he’ll be here for a few days.”

The elder Smith said that his son told him that as soon as he realized he was airborne, his “muscle memory” kicked in and he maneuvered his body for a gymnastics-style landing. As far as he’s concerned, his son’s reflexes were “absolutely” the reason for his survival.

“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “He just looked for the ground and he kind of rotated slowly and he must have landed on his feet. If this had been any other kid he’d probably be dead.”

A 2010 graduate of LaSalle Academy, Smith was captain of LaSalle’s football team in 2010, but got into cheerleading “as a goof” in high school and ended up being very good at it, his father said. He became the first boy ever that year to earn All-State honors for competitive cheerleading since the Rhode Island Interscholastic League began recognizing the sport.

What about the class that watched him tumble right out into thin air ?

“They’re more shaken up than he was,” Dylan’s dad said.

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