Sheriff to probe death of paraglider killed in Highlands while filming Joanna Lumley doc next month

The death of a cameraman in a freak mid-air collision in the Highlands is to be probed by a sheriff next month.

Dan Burton, 54, died on September 18, 2021. He was killed when his paramotor collided with another one flown by his colleague, Sacha Dench, over Loch Na Gainmhich, Sutherland, while filming a Joanna Lumley documentary.

Ms Dench survived the incident but was left with serious injuries. She is known as the "human swan" for her adventures in using a paramotor to follow swans migrating from Russia across Europe and to the UK.

At the time of the fatal incident, she was attempting a 3,000-mile paramotor challenge around Britain to highlight climate change ahead of Cop26. It is understood that the record-breaking attempt would have been featured on a programme narrated by actress Joanna Lumley.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) earlier confirmed that a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) would be held into the circumstances surrounding Mr Burton's death. A preliminary hearing has been set for August 1.

The hearing is set to be held via a Webinar link at Tain Sheriff Court in Inverness. The inquiry will consider any precautions which might have prevented the death, and any shortcomings in working practices.

Paramotorist Sacha Dench
Paramotorist Sacha Dench -Credit:PA

Charity Conservation Without Borders, which was behind the campaign, said in a statement at the time of Mr Burton's death: "In the last stages of the Round Britain Climate Challenge a major incident has occurred involving the lead and support paramotors on the expedition. The incident occurred in the Western Highlands of Scotland near Loch Na Gainmhich.

"We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident. Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital. Her injuries are serious but not life threatening.

"Both highly experienced paramotorists, our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton to whom we offer our sincere condolences."

Procurator Fiscal Andy Shanks, who leads on death investigations for COPFS, said: "The death of Dan Burton occurred while in the course of his employment and as such a Fatal Accident Inquiry is mandatory. The lodging of the First Notice enables FAI proceedings to commence under the direction of the Sheriff.

"Mr Burton’s family will continue to be kept informed of significant developments as court proceedings progress."

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.