Putney skydiver died after becoming entangled with fellow jumper, inquest told

15:45 21 February 2013

Patrick Sandeman died while skydiving last year. Picture: Twitter

Patrick Sandeman died while skydiving last year. Picture: Twitter

Archant

A skydiver involved in a mid-air collision that claimed the life of a Putney wine merchant became entangled when his knees hit his fellow diver’s canopy, an inquest heard today.

Matt Le Berre shouted “I’ve killed him” as he lay injured after the incident, which killed Patrick Sandeman after a jump at Sibson Aerodrome, near Peterborough on September 22.

The collision took place on the approach to the landing zone, an inquest at Lawrence Court, Huntingdon, heard today.

As fellow skydivers and paramedics fought to save Mr Sandeman’s life, Mr Le Berre was heard screaming in pain.

Jump-master Michael Wilson-Roberts rushed to help both men within seconds of them hitting the ground.

He said: “Matt was shouting ‘It’s my fault, my friend, my friend, I’ve killed him’. He was also muttering in French.

“I can’t say he was completely lucid. He was in a bad way and may not have been aware what he was saying but I can’t deny what I heard.”

Mr Sandeman, of Montolieu Gardens, was pronounced dead at the scene and had suffered injuries to his head, ribs and pelvis.

The 53-year-old, who had completed 677 previous jumps, was a partner in Lea & Sandeman, the fine wine merchants and was described after his death as “a total ornament to the British wine trade”.

The inquest heard that Mr Le Berre and Mr Sandeman had jumped from the same plane.

The airfield was busy that day and there was little wind.

Their jumps were staggered for safety reasons with Mr Le Berre jumping as part of the first group of nine and Mr Sandeman part of a second group of four.

Both left the plane at about 14,000ft, reaching speeds of up to 200mph in freefall before deploying their parachutes between 5,000ft and 2,500ft.

Giving evidence, Mr Le Berre, who had completed 488 jumps, said he was slowing after performing an advanced “swooping” manoeuvre, involving a sudden turn and increase in speed, when he saw Mr Sandeman below him.

The 28-year-old originally from France but now living in London, said he remembered pulling on his breaks but could not prevent his knees hitting Mr Sandeman’s canopy and tangling their parachute lines.

Mr Wilson-Roberts told the inquest that swooping turns created unpredictable landing patterns and made it more difficult for skydivers to predict one another’s movements.

He was part of Mr Sandeman’s group and captured a video of the jump using a head camera.

It showed the early stages of the jump unfolding uneventfully before the camera lost sight of Mr Sandeman.

Mr Sandeman’s wife and son left the inquest as this was played.

Witnesses gave conflicting accounts as to which man collided with the other.

But Tony Butler, technical officer for the British Parachute Association, who conducted an investigation, said he was now convinced that it was Mr Sandeman who collided with Mr Le Berre.

Deputy coroner Belinda Cheney recorded a verdict of accidental death and added that it was “more likely than not” that it was Mr Sandeman who collided with Mr Le Berre.

She said: “This was not a straightforward incident, and there has been quite a lot of inconsistency in the evidence.

“I don’t think anybody’s ever going to know what direction Mr Sandeman was coming from and whether he did anything wrong.”

She added it was clear Mr Sandeman was clearly an “active and successful man”.

Outside the inquest, solicitor Dominic Fairclough read a statement on behalf of Mr Sandeman’s family.

He said: “Patrick was an incredibly loving husband and father who lived life to the full.

“The only positive outcome from this has been Mr Le Berre’s recovery.”

Related articles

Latest Stories

7 minutes ago
The spectacular fireworks on the South Bank have always been free - until now (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images for Visit London)

For years, London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks have been the envy of the country - and free. But now Boris Johnson’s office have announced that this year, it will cost £10 to see the fantastic show from the heart of the action on the South Bank.

Read more
King's Cross underground station was shut after 'loose concrete' was found in the roof this morning (Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire)

Commuters were hit with massive disruption to the Tube network this morning after King’s Cross was evacuated due to ‘loose concrete in the roof’.

Read more
08:00
The 50-year-old man was attacked in Kimberley Road, Kilburn (Picture: Google Streetview)

A have-a-go hero who confronted a gang robbing another man found himself beaten and mugged by the group in Kilburn in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

Do you fancy yourself as a football ground know-it-all? Try our devilishly difficult quiz!

How well do you know your football stadiums? This brand new quiz from London24 will seperate the men from the boys...

Read more
Do you know your Thames truths from the porkie pies? (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

So, you live (or work) in London, and you think you know the river well.

Read more
Diego Costa of Chelsea exchanges words with Cesc Fabregas (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)

Chelsea have made several personnel changes over the course of the summer as they look to mount a squad that can challenge for the title.

Read more