A skydiver has survived a 2,000 foot fall onto the roof of an aircraft hangar after his parachute failed.
Paul Lewis, who is in his forties, was airlifted to hospital with head and neck injuries. Last night he was in a stable condition and, according to friends, in “good spirits”.
Lewis, a skydive cameraman with 20 years’ experience, was filming a parachutist making her first jump from 10,000 feet, near Whitchurch in Shropshire, at 3 p.m. on Friday. At 3,000 feet his main parachute failed and he tried to release his reserve.
The reserve parachute opened, but a malfunction caused it to spiral rapidly to the ground. He fell 2,000 feet with the canopy partially open before landing on the steel roof of an aircraft hangar.
Colin Fitzmaurice, owner of the Parachute Center, where Lewis flew from, said “I watched him fall and as soon as I saw the parachute spiral I knew something was wrong. Even before he hit the ground, I called an ambulance.
“He is incredibly lucky, he’s almost without an injury. If he’d fallen 10 feet either way he would have landed on concrete. I went to see him earlier today and he was in good spirits.”
Lewis landed on one side of the pitched roof of a 30-foot-high aircraft hangar. His parachute snagged on the roof, stopping him falling to the ground.
Initially there was little the ambulance and fire service could do because of the height of the hangar, according to Fitzmaurice. It took nearly an hour for a fire engine with a sufficiently tall cherry-picker to arrive before paramedics could even treat Lewis.
He was immobilized and airlifted to hospital.
“The steel roof took some of the force out of the fall. I was the first to arrive at the scene and couldn’t believe how lucky he’d been," said Fitzmaurice.