Student Liam Byrne 'fortunate' to survive parachute failure


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The Independent Online

A student who ended up stuck in a tree after falling 3,000ft (914m) when his canopy failed to open on his very first parachute jump was “very fortunate”, firefighters have said.

Liam Byrne, 18, walked away from the tree near Shotton Colliery, in Co. Durham, virtually uninjured after his horror fall.

The Northumbria University student, who is originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, narrowly missed a church, a metal fence and a range of other obstacles.

He described how his first chute got entangled and then, after instructors used a radio to tell him to deploy his second chute, that got tangled up with the first.

He told the Northern Echo: "First I was glad I didn't hit the church or didn't hit the fence below.

"It was a bit scary, yes."

But asked if he will jump again he said: "Probably - best way to get over it."

Mr Byrne had only just joined the Northumbria University Parachute Club and was jumping at the Peterlee Parachute Centre, in County Durham, on Saturday evening.

Firefighters were called to the tree at 5.25pm.

Group manager John Robson, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said crews using specialist high level working equipment managed to free the teenager by 6.15pm.

There was a round of applause from onlookers when he finally touched the ground and walked off with paramedics for checks.

Mr Robson said: "He was fortunate, there's no doubt about it.

"You've got everything from a church to fencing and all sorts of stuff round there. He was very fortunate."

Asked about Mr Byrne's injuries, the firefighter said: "Maybe scratches, scrapes and bruises but he certainly walked away from the tree."