Woman dies after hitting a parked car when her parachute fails to open


An inquiry has been launched after a parachutist died when her parachute failed to open and she hit a parked car, police have said.

A witness who saw her falling to the ground in Shotton Colliery, County Durham, said she was "spinning like a top" before she crashed at around 3.45pm on Saturday.

Durham Police said the death will be investigated by police, the Health and Safety Executive and the British Parachute Association.

The 49-year-old was from Hebburn, South Tyneside, and had jumped before but not in this country, Durham Police said.

She was found in a cul-de-sac close to the airfield at Shotton Colliery from where her plane had taken off.

The coroner has been informed and a post mortem will be carried out.

Detective Inspector Dave Cuthbert said: "This is a tragic incident.

"The lady who has died was using her own equipment and was making her first sky dive in this country, having previously made parachute jumps abroad.

"We will be working with the HSE and the British Parachuting Association to establish why this tragedy happened."

She was flown by air ambulance to the James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, following the devastating impact.

She did not scream and had her legs and arms open prior to hitting the hatchback parked outside a detached home.

Residents carried out CPR on the woman before paramedics arrived and then police also attended to carry out inquiries.

A witness, who did not want to be identified, was having a cup of coffee in his garden when he saw a group of parachutists jump out of their plane.

"I see them every day so I don't take much notice but this one made me look up," he said.

"I could hear a fluttering noise and it sounded unusual.

"I could see it was not the main parachute, because they're massive.

"It was so close to the ground."

The man said the parachutist was not moving before she hit the ground, as she had her arms and legs spread.

"I honestly thought it was a dummy because there was no movement from her," he said. "She looked as though she was unconscious.

"She was not screaming.

"All I can see is her spinning like a top."

The man heard the impact of her hitting the car, which he said was "an almighty clatter", but thankfully he did not see it.

He next saw her on the ground beside the car as people tried to help, and said she had a bad head injury, despite wearing a helmet.

The man said a paramedic from the skydiving club was quickly on the scene.

The witness said a friend of the parachutist was also quickly there and was distraught.

Reporters calling at the skydive centre were asked to leave.