Sky dive tragedy referred to British Parachute Association for investigation

Shotton Air Field. Pic: Google.
Shotton Air Field. Pic: Google.

A sky diving tragedy which claimed the life of a woman has been referred to the British Parachute Association (BPA) for investigation.

The 49-year-old woman, from Hebburn, died after a sky dive at Shotton Airfield, in County Durham, turned to tragedy yesterday.

Durham Constabulary said the lady was found in an area close to the airfield, and that she was injured when the parachute failed to open.

Peterlee Parachute Centre confirmed this morning that the incident has been referred to the BPA Board of Inquiries.

The club remains closed today and those who have made bookings have been asked to call the club on (0191) 517 1234 or Monday, to reschedule.

A tweet on the club's official Twitter account, read: "We regret that we will not be open for parachuting Sun 11 Sep. Participants who have booked for Sun should 01915171234 on Mon to reschedule"

Police and paramedics, along with the Great North Air Ambulance, were called to the scene at about 3.45pm, on Saturday.

She was airlifted to the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, where she died last night.

An investigation involving Durham Constabulary, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the British Parachute Association is underway.

The coroner has been informed and a post mortem examination will be carried out in due course.

Detective Inspector Dave Cuthbert said: “This is a tragic incident. The lady who has died was using her own equipment and was making her first sky dive in this country, having previously made parachute jumps abroad.

“We will be working with the HSE and the British Parachuting Association to establish why this tragedy happened.”

It has been reported the woman crashed into a parked car in a housing estate cul-de-sac around 400m from the airfield.

Residents carried out CPR on the woman before paramedics arrived and then police also attended to carry out inquiries.

A witness, who did not want to be identified, was having a cup of coffee in his garden when he saw a group of parachutists jump out of their plane.

"I see them every day so I don't take much notice but this one made me look up," he said.

"I could hear a fluttering noise and it sounded unusual.

"I could see it was not the main parachute, because they're massive.

"It was so close to the ground."

The man said the parachutist was not moving before she hit the ground.

"I honestly thought it was a dummy because there was no movement from her," he said.

"She looked as though she was unconscious.

"All I can see is her spinning like a top."

The man heard the impact of her hitting the car, which he said was "an almighty clatter", but thankfully he did not see it.

He next saw her on the ground beside the car as people tried to help, and said she had a bad head injury, despite wearing a helmet.

The man said a paramedic from the sky diving club was quickly on the scene.

The witness said a friend of the parachutist was also quickly there and was distraught. The Great North Air Ambulance Service helicopter landed on a green on a nearby estate and flew her to hospital.