Swiss police are investigating video footage of a helicopter jump that killed London Olympic parachutist Mark Sutton in the Alps Wednesday morning. Sutton, 42, who famously doubled for James Bond actor Daniel Craig during a skydiving stunt at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics, was killed during a wingsuit jump, when he crashed into a mountain ridge near Martigny, the BBC reported.
Danny Boyle, director of "Slumdog Millionaire" and the orchestrator behind the Olympics opening ceremony, wrote in a statement that Sutton's death was a “huge loss to his profession." "In a brilliant partnership with Gary Connery they made the stadium gasp at the opening ceremony in London 2012 and left indelible memories for people from all walks of life all over the world," Boyle wrote. "We were all honored to have him worked with him and to have known him as a friend and a professional."
Sutton was estimated to have been flying as fast as 150 mph at the time of the crash, after jumping from a helicopter at a height of 10,800 feet. He had been flying in a wingsuit, an aerodynamic jumpsuit also known as a birdman or flying squirrel suit, designed with additional folds of fabric under the wearer’s arms and between their legs to increase lift. Wingsuit flights typically end in a parachute landing.
The crash took place around 11 a.m. on Wednesday during a “warm-up” exercise. Sutton was flying with his friend Tony Uragallo, a professional parachutist and B.A.S.E. jumper and founder of Tony Wingsuits, a company that designs and manufactures the specialty sports apparel. During the fatal jump, both Sutton and Uragallo had been strapped with GoPro cameras, wearable cameras that have become increasingly popular in documenting adventure sports.
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The exercise was scheduled to take only one minute and the pair had planned to land in a village across the French border. Sutton had reportedly been staying with his partner in Chamonix-Mont Blanc, the French ski resort, before the accident. He last updated his Facebook account on Sunday, with a photograph of himself wingsuit flying in a mountain range in Chamonix. Uragallo commented on the photograph, “This exit is not for the faint of heart.”
Swiss police said Uragallo turned over his GoPro video footage, which is expected to show Sutton veering off course after exiting the helicopter. He is believed to have disappeared out of the camera’s sight seconds before crashing into the mountain. Emergency workers arrived on the scene in a helicopter, minutes after the crash, but Sutton was pronounced dead.
"The weather was good, but when a pilot takes part in this sport, the aim is to fly very close to the ground or mountain side," Jean-Marie Bornet of the Valais police said. "If you do this at speeds of 200km/h (125mph), the margin for error is very small."
View video of the 2012 London Olympic’s opening ceremony below.