Freefall skydiver tells of miracle escape

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The Independent Online
A British parachutist described yesterday how he survived after his chute became entangled with another skydiver 2,000ft above ground.

Bren Jones, 56, suffered only bruising when he landed in a soft ploughed field with his parachute and that of a fellow jumper flapping above him.

The incident happened on Sunday midway through a free-fall jump from 5,500ft above Hibaldstow, near Scunthorpe, Humberside.

Speaking from his bed at Lincoln Hospital, Mr Jones, a businessman, said: "We flew to 5,000ft and jumped freefall and then I fell for about 3,000 ft before opening my chute. Then I was blown into a fellow jumper and the canopies became entangled.

"My fellow jumper shouted he was going to disengage. He managed to free himself and opened his reserve chute and he landed OK.

"I was stuck with the two parachutes tangled up together. I couldn't get free or do anything I was just falling. I don't know how fast I was going, just painfully fast. I didn't have time to think about anything. I certainly didn't have time to think about if I was going to live or die. All I knew was that it was going to hurt.

"I blacked out before I hit the ground but landed on soft ploughed fields."

Trevor Dobson, chief instructor at Target Skysports, which operates from Hibaldstow Airfield, saw the incident through binoculars. He said Mr Jones's parachute had opened but not fully. However, the combined drag of the two unopened chutes slowed him down enough to save his life.

John Hitchen, safety officer for the British Parachute Association, said: "What apparently happened is that the two jumpers became entangled but they both kept their cool and at the last minute the other jumper managed to get free."

In spite of his scare, Mr Jones plans to jump again as soon as possible.

"I have had minor problems in the past but certainly nothing like this," he said. "It is my hobby and when I get better I will certainly do it again."