• Christopher Rantall, 54, survived a 12,000-foot fall from a failed skydiving attempt
  • His 35-year-old instructor, Arron Toepfer, died after he cushioned Rantall's fall
  • Rantall obtained several injuries, including a dislocated hip, but he's "grateful" to be alive 

A 54-year-old grandfather in the Australian state of Victoria allegedly survived a 12,000-foot fall following a failed skydiving attempt because his instructor sacrificed his life to save him.

Cristopher Rantall was harnessed to 35-year-old tandem skydive instructor Arron Toepfer when the pair's parachutes failed to open and forced them to crash-land in a paddock in the town of Torquay on July 30, Australian newspaper The Canberra Times reported.

Toepfer turned in the last seconds of the fall to cushion the blow and did not survive, according to a report by

"Arron's bravery helped cushion my fall. He chose to protect me over the cost of his own life," Rantall was quoted as saying.

"It still gets to me. Arron basically sacrificed his life (so) that I can live, or have a chance at living," the ex-serviceman said.

Rantall had been enjoying the jump, which was a combination of his bucket list wish and part of his daughter Raya's 30th birthday celebration, until he realized he and Toepfer were in trouble.

"Arron [had] gone to release the first chute - It didn’t work," Rantall said.

"I didn’t know and I’m just loving this free-fall and we’re just going down and down and down," he explained.

The two then allegedly went into a vertical position when they saw that the secondary chute was not filling with air.

"Oh, we're in trouble here," Rantall recalled saying as he saw Raya, who had jumped first, above him and Toepfer. He allegedly overtook his daughter at up to 200 kilometers (124 miles) per hour.

"They just went straight past us," Raya said.

Rantall, who claimed he does not remember the impact of the crash, spent two weeks in a hospital with a dislocated hip, some broken bones and a bleeding spleen.

"I personally believe it is a miracle that I’m alive and another miracle that I’m as able-bodied as I am," Rantall said.

"When I found out that Arron had died, it was very upsetting... I owe him my life," he noted.

Rantall reportedly underwent hip surgery to remove a piece of floating bone. Additionally, he had daily hospital appointments and rehabilitation — including hydrotherapy — in the month that followed the incident.

Despite describing the recovery as being both mentally and physically hard, Rantall said he was "forever grateful" to be alive.

"I look at this process with humility and with contentment because it could be a lot worse than what it is and I'm just so happy and grateful that I can move as much as I can and be here today," Rantall said.

Toepfer received tributes following the incident and was praised as a "true hero and a brave young man" by his family.

"It will take a while for us to accept and for it to become real. But we know he was doing what he loved, and what he was good at," one of Toepfer's relatives wrote on social media.

"I know Arron wouldn't have been able to cope if he had lived, and his passenger hadn't," Toepfer's father was quoted as saying.