Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Police name parachute death man

Police are investigating after a parachutist died near Cockerham in Lancashire

A man who died after his parachute came down in a field was a 40-year-old father-of-three, police have said.

Lee Arthur Clifford, from St Helens, Merseyside, was pronounced dead at the scene after landing in a field off Main Street in Cockerham, near Lancaster, Lancashire, on Saturday. A joint investigation into what happened is being carried out by Lancashire Constabulary and the British Parachute Association.

Emergency services were called to the scene at shortly before 2pm on Saturday. Police said a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out to establish the exact cause of death.

Eyewitness Chris Tomlin, 56, said he tended to the man after he saw him hit the ground. The retired paramedic said the parachutist was jumping as part of the Cockerham Gala which takes place in the village every year.

He watched from his back garden, which is about 500m from the field, and saw that the man was in trouble.

He said: "The parachutist left the aircraft. He deployed his chute and it was tangled. He tried to cover the procedure to untangle the chute and he was over Cockerham church when he must have realised how close to the ground he was. He cut away the main chute and deployed his emergency chute but it looks like he was too close to the ground."

Mr Tomlin said about 300 people live in the village and many would have been enjoying the gala.

He said: "Me and my partner were rooted to the spot and I said to her: 'This guy's in trouble', but then I jumped in my car and went straight down. When we got there you could see by his injuries that he was badly hurt. I tended to him and held his head. The air ambulance came straight in and landed.

"It's awful. There was nothing I could do for him."

Mr Tomlin said weather conditions were ideal for a parachute jump and lots of people jumped earlier in the day without any problems.

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