British jumper dies in fourth parachute accident in three years at Portimão aerodrome

A 45-year-old British man has died after yet another parachute tragedy at Skydive Algarve – the radical sport centre based at Portimão aerodrome that has now seen four jumping deaths in the last three years.

The man is understood to have gone into cardiorespiratory arrest after “a gust of wind” saw him crashing into a wall at the aerodrome as he came in to land during “an international festival”, writes national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Reanimation efforts went ahead for “around eight minutes”, said a spokesman for rescue services called to the scene and, once the man was stabilised, he was transported to Portimão’s Barlavento state hospital where he later died.

This is the fourth death in almost exactly three years. In October 2012, local British resident and well-known businessman Jonathon Wickham plunged to his death from 12,000 feet. The next year Portuguese jumper Ana Peixoto, 32, was killed and, five months later, German holidaymaker Stefan Hewekeri crashed from the sky during the Spring Boogie Festival. On the same day as Hewekeri’s death, two other jumpers were injured, one seriously.

All incidents involved ‘seasoned jumpers’ and certainly in the case of Peixoto and Hewekeri unexpected gusts of wind seem to have been involved.

Meantime, Skydive Algarve informs us that business is continuing as usual at the centre, which prides itself on “running full time, open 365 days a year”.

An investigation is underway, said a spokesperson who gave her name only as Lucy, but the company will not be releasing any further details until all its reports have been compiled and handed to the authorities.

Lucy said she would make sure “someone” from Skydive Algarve gets back to us to discuss the situation at the centre, and how many deaths have dogged it since the horror that claimed the life of Jonathon Wickham on October 20, 2012.

As a Facebook tribute from Evelin and Norbert Meier dated six days after the first skydiving death explained: “Nobody knows what happened during his last flight. Jonathan was found 19 hours later after a big search of more than 70 people of the local police (GNR), fire brigade, search-dogs, a small plane, a gyrocopter and lots of Skydivers.

“There are some questions that need to be answered, but until we have investigated the ‘Black Box’ of his Cypres2, we only have ideas of what happened”.

As this new investigation gets underway, Skydive Algarve informs us: “We are jumping today.”

Conditions are “suitable for jumping today”, said Lucy.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com