Student fortunate to survive after parachute failure

A STUDENT who ended up stuck in a tree after falling 3,000ft when his canopy failed to open on his first parachute jump was “very fortunate”, firefighters have said.

Liam Byrne, 18, walked away from the tree near Shotton Colliery, in Co. Durham, virtually uninjured after his horror fall.

The Northumbria University student, who is originally from Doncaster, narrowly missed a church, a metal fence and a range of other obstacles.

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He described how his first chute got entangled and then, after instructors used a radio to tell him to deploy his second chute, that got tangled up with the first.

He said: “First I was glad I didn’t hit the church or didn’t hit the fence below. It was a bit scary, yes.”

But asked if he will jump again he said: “Probably – best way to get over it.”

Mr Byrne had only just joined the Northumbria University Parachute Club and was jumping at the Peterlee Parachute Centre, in County Durham, on Saturday evening. Firefighters were called to the tree at 5.25pm.

Group manager John Robson, from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said crews using specialist high level working equipment managed to free the student by 6.15pm.

There was a round of applause from onlookers when he finally touched the ground and walked off with paramedics for checks.

Mr Robson said: “He was fortunate, there’s no doubt about it. You’ve got everything from a church to fencing and all sorts of stuff round there. He was very fortunate.”