Soldier's parachute collision drama

By Dave GooderhamA SOLDIER had a miraculous escape over the skies of East Anglia after dramatically colliding with a fellow parachutist.Sgt David Bolton, who serves in a Colchester-based regiment, only suffered a broken leg in the fall, which took place on a routine Army training mission close to the Suffolk-Norfolk border.

By Dave Gooderham

A SOLDIER had a miraculous escape over the skies of East Anglia after dramatically colliding with a fellow parachutist.

Sgt David Bolton, who serves in a Colchester-based regiment, only suffered a broken leg in the fall, which took place on a routine Army training mission close to the Suffolk-Norfolk border.

His family spoke last night of their relief after it is believed the experienced medic clipped a colleague while jumping from 1,000ft feet from a C-130 transporter plane.


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An Army spokeswoman said it had started inquiries into the accident and would be investigating it in due course.

Sgt Bolton, of the 16 Close Support Medical Regiment in Colchester, jumped out of the plane with eight comrades.

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It is thought the 32-year-old, who has been with the Army for 12 years, collided with another parachutist and plummeted to the ground close to a training ground in Stanford, near Brandon, earlier this month.

The father-of-one, who lives in Lancashire, was taken to the USAFE hospital at RAF Lakenheath before later being transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where his condition was described last night as stable.

An Army spokeswoman said: “We are making inquiries into the accident and Sgt Bolton is still recovering in hospital. At this stage, we cannot make any further comment.”

Sgt Bolton's wife, Alison, who lives in Whalley, Lancashire, with their six-year-old son Aaron, broke the news of his accident to her husband's parents, Frank and Doreen.

Mr Bolton, 79, from Blackburn, said: “David suffered serious injuries, but everything is now okay. The family are relieved - I have not seen him myself, but I have been told that he is all right, which is the main thing.

“His wife Alison phoned us and said our David had been involved in a bad accident. We thought his injuries were going to be much more serious at first. He had a very narrow escape.”

Lieutenant Ed Ekpoudom, spokesman for RAF Lakenheath, said: “We can confirm that a solider assigned to the British Army was admitted to our hospital following a parachute training mishap.

“The sergeant was evaluated and stabilised and then transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. This is an excellent example of the co-operative agreement between the U.S. and British authorities.”

Part of the Army Training Estate and lying close to Brandon and Thetford, the Stanford Training Area is one of the largest training areas in the country.

As well as large parachute drops, the area is also home to one of the UK's major live-fire training facilities using mortars, artillery and ground-attack aircrafts.

Experienced jumper Tony Knight, chief instructor of UK Parachuting at Old Buckenham Airfield, Norfolk, said: “Depending on what happened, if the parachutes became tangled then it would have been alarming.

“If it had been a raw fall, then you would have expected the solider to have died. But the fact the parachute opened would have slowed down the descent and kept any serious injuries to a minimum.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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