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Parachutist dies following jump


A male parachutist has died after coming down in a field, an ambulance service said.

Paramedics were called to a field next to a church on Main Street, Cockerham, near Lancaster, Lancashire, at 1.52pm.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, the spokeswoman for North West Ambulance Service said.

The spokeswoman said: "We were called to a field next to Cockerham church on Main Street, Cockerham, at 13.52 to reports that a parachutist had come down.

"He was confirmed dead at the scene.

"The matter has been left with police."

Retired paramedic Chris Tomlin, 56, said the parachutist was jumping as part of the Cockerham Gala which takes place in the village every year.

He was standing in his back garden, which is about 500m from the field, when he realised the man was in trouble and tended to him after he had hit the ground.

He said: "The parachutist left the aircraft. He deployed his chute and it was tangled.

"He tried to cover the procedure to untangle the chute and he was over Cockerham church when he must have realised how close to the ground he was.

"He cut away the main chute and deployed his emergency chute but it looks like he was too close to the ground."

Mr Tomlin said about 300 people live in the village and many would have been enjoying the gala.

He said he believed the parachutist was part of the Black Knight Parachute Centre which is based in Cockerham.

The centre, which is affiliated to the British Parachute Association (BPA), has been operating since 1964 and is one of the longest-established parachute training centres in the UK, according to its website.

Mr Tomlin said he jumped into his Freelander 4X4 vehicle when he saw the parachutist hit the ground and tended to the man until doctors arrived. He said his partner was distraught by the incident and a collection had been started at the Manor Inn, in Main Street, Cockerham, for the man.

He said: "Me and my partner were rooted to the spot and I said to her: 'This guy's in trouble', but then I jumped in my car and went straight down.

"When we got there you could see by his injuries that he was badly hurt. I tended to him and held his head. The air ambulance came straight in and landed.

"It's awful. There was nothing I could do for him."

Mr Tomlin said weather conditions were ideal for a parachute jump and lots of people jumped earlier in the day without any problems.

He said: "It's just an accident, pure and simple. It's terrible. As long as there was somebody there with him as he was breathing his last, that's something."

A spokeswoman from the Black Knights Parachute Centre in Cockerham, Lancashire, said: "A BPA board of inquiry will be investigating the accident and when complete will submit the reports to the coroner, and any other relevant information.

"The report will include the board's conclusion and, if appropriate, make recommendations."