Cliff parachutist hurt in Beachy Head dive

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The Independent Online

An extreme sports enthusiast suffered serious injuries and was lucky to escape with his life yesterday after a "Base" jump off Beachy Head, in Sussex, went terribly wrong.

Sean Richards, 33, a sales engineer from Oxford, was hurt when his parachute deployed too early and tangled, slamming him into the side of the cliff and instantly snapping a bone in his leg, splintering another, and dislocating his ankle.

The experienced parachutist, with more than 130 jumps to his name, was forced to land in the sea, where he was rescued by lifeboat and taken to hospital in nearby Eastbourne.

"Sean rescued the situation incredibly. His experience showed, but a lesser-minded individual could have died," said one of Richards' crew.

Last night, Richards was adamant he would not give up Base jumping ­ which stands for "buildings, antenna, span (bridge) and earth".

"I am 33 years old and this is the first time I have ever broken a bone," he said. "We are living in an airbag culture, but Base gives you an opportunity to really touch life."

However, a police source said yesterday: "We've no idea whether what he did was illegal. All we can think of is that he may have contravened a by-law.

"Most people that jump off cliffs don't need arresting when they get to the bottom.

"We are looking into it. We know where he is and he won't get far with a broken leg."