British skydiver, 29, dies from injuries in Florida jump accident

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The Independent US

A British skydiver has died from "massive injuries" after a parachute accident in Florida, the Foreign Office confirmed yesterday.

James Alford, 29, from Cambridge, was pronounced dead in the early hours of Sunday morning, several hours after problems with his landing in DeLand, near Daytona Beach, local police said.

Mr Alford, described by officials as an experienced parachutist, landed about a quarter of a mile from his intended target. He was reported to have broken his arms, legs and skull in the landing.

He was jumping with a specialist parachuting operator - Skydive DeLand - which uses jump planes including the DeHavilland Twin Otter and the Shorts Skyvan with maximum altitudes of 13,500ft. Bob Hallett, operator of Skydive DeLand, said: "It's a tragic thing. We do over 100,000 jumps a year. Any time there's an accident, it's a rarity."

Volusia County medical examiners will do a post-mortem examination and Mr Alford's death is expected to be declared an accident.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "I can confirm that a British national, James Alford, died in a parachute accident in Florida. We have been in touch with his family and have offered them consular assistance at this difficult time."

Professor Raj Aggarwal, Mr Alford's personal tutor at Bath University, where he graduated with a first-class degree in engineering two years ago, said: "He had a very bright future in front of him. He was very much into travelling around and used to go to quite a number of countries. He was very much the outdoors man and enjoyed life considerably."

Mr Alford learnt to skydive in South Africa, but recently became a member of a skydiving club based at Sibson airfield in Cambridgeshire where he was completing his training. He arrived in Florida a week before his death and had made 21 jumps there.

In May, a British Airways pilot, Martin Siddell, 32, from Camberley in Surrey, died when his parachute became tangled 200ft from the ground at Skydive City centre in Zephyrhills, Florida. In November 2001, Pauline Hussen, the mother of 23-year-old Craig Chesworth, demanded an independent investigation after her son was killed when his parachute opened close to the ground in Florida.