Parachute tragedy: 'Lee adored his children. He'll be deeply missed by all who knew him' (From St Helens Star)
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Parachute tragedy: 'Lee Clifford adored his children. He'll be deeply missed by all who knew him'
HEARTBROKEN relatives are coming to terms with the death of a St Helens father who was killed when his parachute came down in a Lancashire field.
Lee Clifford, from New Bold, St Helens, died after landing off Main Street in Cockerham, near Lancaster, on Saturday afternoon, on what was believed to be his first jump.
Friends this week described a caring dad, who was father to four children, and lovely bloke. He is said to be a former bodybuilder.
In a notice placed in this week’s St Helens Star, his family said: “Lee adored all his children. He was a loving family man and a great friend to many. Lee will be deeply missed by all that a knew him.
“A funeral service will be held at St Nicholas Church, Sutton, followed by cremation in St Helens. Family flowers only by request. Donations to Willowbrook Hospice, a charity that Lee was passionate about supporting.”
The Star understands the fatal incident is being treated as a tragic accident.
Witnesses suggested Mr Clifford’s chute became tangled as he headed towards the ground.
The location in Cockerham, is popular with people from St Helens who take up the pursuit.
It is believed he had recently signed up with the Black Knights Parachute Centre and planned to complete eight levels of an Accelerated Free Fall course to become a qualified solo skydiver.
According to British Parachute Association (BPA) records, he was taking the first level on Saturday.
A joint investigation into what happened is being carried out by Lancashire Constabulary and the BPA ahead of an inquest.
Results of a post-mortem were expected as the Star went to press. John Hitchen, safety officer at the BPA, said: “From our point of view there has been a fatal accident and we have now commenced a board of inquiry. “This report will go to the coroner, to the BPA and the Civil Aviation Authority and to the police – should they request it. “As far as we are concerned, from the records we have, it appears to have been his first parachute jump, and he would have been with two instructors, who where possible would have given him teaching and assistance.
“It is my understanding he was intending to become an experienced skydiver.”
The Press Association reported how eyewitness Chris Tomlin, a 56-year-old retired paramedic, tended to Mr Clifford after he saw him hit the ground.
He watched from his back garden, which is about 500m from the field, and saw that the man was in trouble. He told PA: "The parachutist left the aircraft. He deployed his chute and it was tangled.
He tried to cover the procedure to untangle the chute and he was over Cockerham church when he must have realised how close to the ground he was.
“He cut away the main chute and deployed his emergency chute but it looks like he was too close to the ground."
He added: "It's awful. There was nothing I could do for him."