Friend's final plea to suicide skydiver was caught on video

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The screams of a skydiver pleading with his free-falling friend not to kill himself were captured on a 58-second video as the two men plunged to the ground at 120mph, it emerged yesterday.

The screams of a skydiver pleading with his free-falling friend not to kill himself were captured on a 58-second video as the two men plunged to the ground at 120mph, it emerged yesterday.

Alastair McLaren, an experienced parachutist, fell to his death on Sunday and his last moments were caught on tape by one of his closest friends who was jumping with him. Yesterday, as police continued to investigate Mr McLaren's death, friends who had watched the video told of his fatal fall.

After jumping out of the plane at 12,000ft, Mr McLaren began clowning around for the video camera mounted on his friend's helmet and freefalled for 25 seconds in tandem before breaking free. Despite the frantic screams of "no, no,no" from his friend, which eyewitnesses said could be heard from the ground, Mr McLaren began to slip out of his harness.

Thirty-two seconds after leaving the plane Mr McLaren could be seen in the top right-hand corner of the film removing his helmet at about 9,000ft.

Unable to stop what was happening, his friend continued to film as Mr McLaren slipped his arms out of his shoulder straps and struggled to remove the still-packed parachute, which was flapping about between his legs.

Thirty-nine seconds after leaving the plane Mr McLaren went into a skydiving position without displaying any sign of panic and three seconds later he made his final gesture, pointing to the camera and then dived head-first to the ground. According to friends who revealed details of the tape to the Daily Record newspaper in Scotland, it was clear from the video that the skydiver was in complete control of his actions.

Shortly before taking off for the jump with 14 other competitors in the Scottish National Parachute Championship at Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire, Mr McLaren, 39, sent a text message to his ex-girlfriend telling her "Don't feel bad about it - I love you very much." It is believed that Mr McLaren, who had completed almost 1,000 jumps throughout the world, sent the message having decided to take his own life. He had even asked a friend to video the jump.

An unnamed source told the newspaper: "His friend couldn't comprehend what he was seeing. He carried on filming because he didn't know what else to do. He was absolutely helpless as he watched his friend commit suicide in front of him. He was desperately shouting, 'No, no, no'."

The self-employed joiner from Longniddry, East Lothian took to the air shortly before 9.15am in a Dornier G92 plane for the final jump of the day after successfully completing several jumps over the weekend. He had secretly discarded his goggles, altimeter, mobile phone and gloves on the plane to make it easier to shed his parachute once outside the aircraft.

He was said to have been devastated after splitting with his student lover, Hannah Bradman, 22. Mr McLaren had walked out on his 19-year marriage to his wife Fiona, a pharmacist, and their two teenage children for the St Andrews University undergraduate from London four months ago.

Tayside Police, who have said they are not treating Mr McLaren's death as suspicious, continued to search the fields where his body was discovered by sniffer dogs near Auchterarder early on Monday. They are still looking for his parachute and other discarded equipment that they hope will shed more light on exactly what happened.

Friends of Mr McLaren claim he had been "ripped apart" by his break-up with Ms Bradman, who he had been seeing for about 18 months. Tom Gold, from Kincardine, Clackmannanshire, said: "He was the sort of bloke anyone would be proud to call a friend. Skydiving is a small world and a lot of people are very upset by this," Mr McLaren's estranged wife was said to be "too upset" to speak about the tragedy.

A note stuck on the door of the family's semi-detached home in East Lothian, said: "Alastair was a very private man who loved his family and skydiving. We are all shocked."

Mr McLaren's death echoes that of another skydiver, Stephen Hilder, 20, who is believed to have committed suicide on a jump in North Lincolnshire last July. A coroner is due to decide whether Mr Hilder took his own life after police found he had not been murdered.