Skydivers die as parachutes become entangled in mid-air after display

Two skydivers died when their parachutes became entangled during a formation display.

Brian Laithwaite, 65, and Emma Bramley, 31, were parachuting at Langar Airfield in Nottinghamshire on Friday afternoon when the accident happened. They were using separate parachutes when they became tangled, causing them to fall to the ground at speed.

>Mr Laithwaite, from Wigan in Lancashire, and Ms Bramley, from Nottingham, were both described as experienced parachutists. The accident happened at 3.30pm on Friday. Nottinghamshire Police has launched an investigation, but said the deaths were not believed to be suspicious.

The pair were part of a 14-strong group which set off at 3pm on Friday afternoon in a Cessna plane from the airfield, 10 miles south east of Nottingham.

They had flown to 13,500ft before Ms Bramley and Mr Laithwaite jumped out in a six-man group to perform a number of formations above the ground. The plan was to split off at between 2,800ft and 3,500ft so that each jumper would have enough room to deploy their parachute safely.

It was then that Ms Bramley deployed her main parachute which then became tangled with Mr Laithwaite's body. He remained above her, with his own canopy fully open as they fell towards the ground, at what is thought to have been a survivable speed.

People on the ground saw the drama unfolding and hoped both would only suffer injuries, but at about 100ft they seemed to accelerate through the air and both were killed once they landed.

Dave Hickling, managing director of British Parachute Schools at the airfield, said it was impossible for them to disentangle the parachute and deploy their reserves safely.

He said: "The sequence of events is that Emma's parachute collided with Brian's body. If that had been a simple collision, Emma's job, if she couldn't clear herself, would have been to open her reserve system and release her main parachute.

"But for some reason, part of Emma's reserve system and part of Brian's reserve deployment system had been activated. It was a no-win situation.

"They continued until about 100ft above the ground when Brian's parachute, for a reason unknown to me, seemed to change its attitude and accelerate towards the ground. It was that landing which resulted in the fatalities."

He added: "I thought it possible that they would suffer bad injuries. It has been known for two people to land on one parachute and both survive. It was one of those freaky, unfortunate incidents. It was one of those entanglements that you just couldn't get out of.

"I am devastated by it, devastated. But it's what skydivers do. It's like riding a racing bike, or skiing down a black slope. Anything that causes death or injury is unjust but it is not totally unexpected because you know there is a likelihood of it happening."

The inquest into their deaths will open at Nottingham Coroner's Court today.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk