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Stuntman killed in parachute jump

A BBC stuntman died yesterday during a TV reconstruction of a near-fatal parachute accident.

The recreation was being staged for the BBC series 999, presented by the newscaster Michael Buerk, which dramatises accidents from which people escape with their lives.

Tip Tipping, from Surrey, one of Britain's top stuntmen, leapt out of an aircraft near Ellingham, Northumberland, and crashed into woods just 70 m (76 yards) from the village.

It is not yet known if his parachute failed to open, but he was certified dead at the scene of the accident by a doctor.

The film-makers were reconstructing the miraculous escape last September of parachutist Terry Wakenshaw, 34, of Longbenton, Tyne and Wear.

Mr Wakenshaw smashed into the side of a Cessna light aircraft, breaking his arm, crushing his chest and injuring his head, when his parachute became tangled in the plane's landing gear.

After being dragged along for more than 7,000ft he managed to free himself and fell like a stone for 500ft before opening his reserve parachute and floating to the ground.

Mr Wakenshaw spent weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries. Experts said he had had a miraculous escape from death.

Mr Tipping took off from Brunton Airfield in Northumberland, just as Mr Wakenshaw had done.

Mr Wakenshaw, who was advising the film-makers, said yesterday he was shocked by the tragedy. He had been interviewed for the programme on Thursday, but was not in Ellingham while the reconstruction was being filmed.

'My heart stopped when I heard what had happened,' Mr Wakenshaw said. 'I realise that it could so easily have happened to me.

'This has hit me very hard. It is a terrible tragedy. I have never met Mr Tipping, but my feelings go out to the man's family and friends.'

Several years ago the BBC ended production of the popular television series The Late Late Breakfast Show, hosted by Noel Edmonds, after a contestant was killed in a stunt in which he jumped from a crane.