NEW: British Parachute Association is saddened by news of the death of a member
Swiss police say a 42-year-old British man died after jumping in a wingsuit
UK media name him as Mark Sutton, who jumped at the London Olympics opening ceremony
Police say the man hit a cliff after jumping from a helicopter in the Alps
A British stuntman who parachuted dressed as James Bond during the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony has died, UK media reported.
Mark Sutton, whose performance was one of the highlights of the opening ceremony, was in Switzerland at the time of his death.
Police in Switzerland’s Valais Canton did not name him, saying formal identification is under way after the incident Wednesday morning in the Trient area.
The 42-year-old died after hitting a cliff while jumping in a “wingsuit” from a helicopter, a police statement said.
He and another man jumped from a height of about 3,300 meters in the Grandes-Otannes area in the Alps, near the border with France, the statement said.
“They then flew remaining close to the mountain, with the intention of landing near Le Peuty, near Trient, in Switzerland,” it said.
“During this flight, one of the men suffered a fatal fall. According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that he fell after hitting a cliff.”
The Briton was in Chamonix with 20 other professionals “considered among the best in the world in this discipline,” police said.
They had been gathered there by a company that specializes in extreme sports, with daredevil feats filmed and broadcast via the Internet.
The UK Foreign Office confirmed the death of a British citizen in Switzerland, and a spokesman said the office stood “ready to provide consular assistance.”
Sutton jumped from a helicopter above the Olympic stadium alongside a fellow stuntman dressed as Queen Elizabeth II in an opening ceremony show seen by millions.
Gary Connery, who played the queen, made an apparent reference to news of Sutton’s death on Twitter.
“All you jumpers/flyers out there, stay safe, make wise choices and know your limits and your locations. Live to tell your stories. One love,” he posted late Wednesday.
Wingsuit jumping is an extreme sport carried out by experienced skydivers who use a special suit – which looks like a superhero’s cape – to increase the surface area of the body. The large suit allows them to extend their time in free fall before deploying a parachute to land.
John Hitchen, national coach and safety officer for the British Parachute Association, said the organization was saddened to hear about the death of Sutton, who was a member.
He said jumpers need to be experienced to use wingsuits, which allow the user to slow their descent, to glide to a degree and move horizontally to the ground.
Although the details are unconfirmed as yet, Sutton may have been “terrain flying,” which involves flying very close to mountains or cliffs, Hitchen said.
“You get a buzz from it but it’s potentially quite hazardous,” he said.