'James Bond' Skydiver Dies In Alps Accident

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'James Bond' Skydiver Dies In Alps Accident

The British skydiver who parachuted into the 2012 Olympic Stadium dressed as James Bond has been killed in an accident.

Mark Sutton, 41, died yesterday after crashing into a mountain near Martigny in the Swiss Alps.

He had been invited to take part in an event with 19 other wingsuit pilots, which involved being filmed jumping from helicopters.

Wingsuits are special jump suits which increase the surface area of the body and act like a parachute wing, allowing users to glide through the air at high speeds.

Mr Sutton had been practising a dangerous discipline in the sport known as terrain flying, which involves flying in close proximity to cliffs and mountains.

The accident happened on the first day of the thee-day event in the Valais canton, near the French border. Rescuers believe Mr Sutton died on impact, though the exact cause of the accident is not yet clear. Swiss police are looking at footage of the accident to establish exactly what happened.

He is understood to have jumped from a helicopter flying at 3,300m (10,826ft) with fellow wingsuit flyer Tony Uragallo. They had intended to fly in close proximity to the terrain and land at a village across the border in France,  according to police.

Jean-Marie Bornet, of the Valais police service, said his injuries were so severe that experts were forced to identify his body with a DNA test.

"We do not know what caused his death but we know it was immediate," he added."The weather was good but when a pilot takes part in this sport, the aim is to fly very close to the ground or mountain side. "If you do this at speeds of 200kmh, the margin for error is very small."

Five days ago he posted an update to his Facebook profile: "The sun comes out for a beautiful day in Chamonix, two base wingsuit flights from Brevent then a spectacular paraglide with Mont Blanc and the glaciers glistening in the background."

Mr Sutton took part in one of the most memorable sequences of the Olympics opening ceremony when, dressed as James Bond, he parachuted into the stadium alongside Gary Connery, who was dressed as the Queen.

He doubled for actor Daniel Craig for a section of the London Games curtain-raiser which saw the spy jump alongside the Queen with Union flag-emblazoned parachutes after flying to Stratford by helicopter from Buckingham Palace.

He was also co-pilot and teammate during Mr Connery's successful attempt to become the first person in the world to safely land a wingsuit without a parachute.

Speaking to Sky News after the event he said: "It was an incredible day. It all felt very 'British' - the enormity of it was only apparent when Gary flew it into the boxes, that everyone had just witnessed a 'World's First'."

After hearing news of the accident, Mr Connery posted the following message on Twitter: "All you jumpers/flyers out there, stay safe, make wise choices and know your limits and your locations live to tell your stories. One love."

Mr Connery said Mark was smart, articulate and funny. "Everyone misses him and its horrendous," he said.

"He is an incredible friend, articulate, smart, funny, He was the sort of guy that when you knew you were working with him he had your back 100 percent and the base jumping, wingsuit community and the world is a worse place without him". 

Danny Boyle, who directed the London Olympics opening ceremony, told the Evening Standard that Mr Sutton was a "gentle and thoughtful" man and his death would be "a huge loss to his profession".

Buckingham Palace have told the Daily Mirror  that they are aware of the "very sad news" regarding Mark Sutton's death.

Mr Sutton's death was the thirteenth known wingsuit fatality this year.