Third Wingsuit Death in the French Alps

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The extreme discipline that allows you to fly like a bird continues to claim lives

It’s the third fatal accident in a week for this extreme activity that’s a cross between hang-gliding and free-falling. On Saturday evening, a 41-year-old father of two was killed during a jump from the Dent de l’Arclusaz – a peak of some 2,041m above sea level (twice the height of Carrauntuohill) overlooking the small town of Saint-Pierre-d’Albigny in the Savoie department.

The deceased was a holidaymaker from the Southern department of Var who had jumped from the peak with a friend. The spot near Chamonix is a popular location for wingsuit daredevils who want to indulge in the speciality known as Base-jumping (essentially throwing yourself off a cliff in a wingsuit). When the dead man’s friend landed safely and found no trace of his companion, he alerted the emergency services.

A body was recovered by rescue helicopters at about 8pm: “We’re not sure at this point as to what exactly happened,” said the gendarme officer charged with the enquiry.

Five people have died in wingsuit accidents in the French Alps since the start of the summer, including three of them in the last week alone. Wingsuit flyers glide for a certain distance before landing by parachute. On Friday last, an experienced wingsuit practitioner from Poland met his death after launching himself from a peak in the Haute-Savoie, just two days after Briton Mark Sutton – famous for his dramatic entrance as James Bond during the London Olympics opening ceremony – was killed in a similar accident over the border in Switzerland. So far, there have been 20 wingsuit deaths worldwide this year.

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