Canopy collapse killed East Lancashire paraglider



First published in News

THE death of a man in a paragliding accident on Pendle Hill was a tragic accident, an inquest heard.

Emergency services were called at shortly after midday on Wednesday, December 4 last year to Well Springs, Sabden, where 48-year-old father of two Robert Kirkbride had been paragliding with a friend, Blackburn Coroners’ Court was told.

The inquest heard that while he was in the air, the canopy of Mr Kirkbride’s paraglider collapsed, causing him to fall around 30 feet to the ground.

Police, paramedics, the air ambulance and mountain rescue teams were sent to the crash site to offer assistance, and administered first aid.

But despite their best efforts to save him, Mr Kirkbride was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics at 1.25pm.

The inquest heard that Mr Kirkbride, from Lytham, was a relatively experienced paraglider, and that Pendle Hill was a popular sport among people who like to practise the sport.

But. the hearing was told, conditions on the day had changed quickly, and that turbulent wind conditions could have contributed to the collapse of his canopy.

His friend Damian Thornton told the inquest he had set off before Mr Kirkbride, and witnessed the accident from where had landed, further down the hill.

He said: “The wing collapsed and then he travelled forward and down at speed, at which point he impacted with the ground.

“I heard the sound of the impact, at which point I scrambled six or seven feet to the ridge line.”

Mr Thornton said he found his friend to be unresponsive to shouting or shaking, and called the emergency services.

Pathologist Mohammed Aslam found the death was caused by multiple crash injuries, which corresponded with the evidence given to the inquest.

After the hearing, Mr Kirkbride’s partner Angela Feehan said: “He died knowing that I loved him, and he died doing something that he loved.

“God left me with lots and lots of positives.”

She said donations could be made in his memory to North West Air Ambulance and Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue Team.

His sister, Maxine Wallbank said: “We’re all absolutely devastated about what’s happened to happened to him, even though he was doing something he enjoyed.

“He is going to be greatly missed by his family and his children.”

Coroner Michael Singleton recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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