The Sergeant Major of the British Army’s world-famous Red Devils parachute display team has suffered tragedy after plunging 3,500ft to his death in a mid-air collision during a training jump. Sergeant Dean Walton died in Spain on Friday when the lines of his parachute became entangled with those of another jumper, causing his own canopy to collapse. This saw him enter a severe spin at around 3,500ft before he crash-landed on the ground at high speed.
Desperate attempts to save his life at the drop zone were made, but tragically Sergeant Walton was pronounced dead.
Nimsdai Purja, the jumper who collided with him in mid-air and then frantically tried to save his life, took to Facebook to describe the harrowing events of that day.
The 39-year-old celebrated Nepalese mountaineer and former Special Boat Service trooper, wrote: “Dean and I were conducting canopy handling and stacking drills.
“We left the aircraft at 15,000ft and were under good canopies [fully deployed chutes] by 3,500ft. Dean approached and was positioned at 45 degrees directly behind and above.
“This required deep brakes to stay in position and it is thought due to this Dean’s canopy stalled and collapsed, sending him through my canopy and entangling him within my lines.
“This sent us both into a severe spin and increased our fall rate dramatically. At this point I had no option but to cut away and pull my reserve.
“Dean’s canopy was inflated but descending at a faster rate. I identified he was seriously injured. I conducted life-saving treatment but due to the severity of his injuries I was unable to resuscitate him.
“I am devastated at the loss of Dean who was super talented and loved what he did.”
READ MORE: Liz Truss is Prime Minister in name only with Jeremy Hunt in charge
They are the equivalent of the RAF’s Red Arrows and perform some 60 public displays in the UK and internationally each year.
Nearly two years ago in February 2021, an SAS soldier on a secret parachute jump in Iraq was critically injured after a mid-air collision with a US Special Forces parachutist.
They had jumped from 18,000ft but their lines became entwined. The US soldier was also badly injured in the accident, which triggered a dramatic rescue operation.
Last year, a Fijian SAS soldier was badly injured when his parachute failed to deploy fully during a jump in California.
Months earlier in 2020, two SAS soldiers were also seriously hurt when they parachuted onto power lines during an exercise in Fife, Scotland.