15 Aug 2013

London 2012 stuntman dies in Alps accident

Mark Sutton, who parachuted into the Olympic Stadium dressed as James Bond during the London 2012 opening ceremony, dies in an apparent wingsuit accident in the Swiss Alps.

Mark Sutton (Getty)

Mr Sutton, 42, died on Wednesday after crashing into a mountain ridge in the Valais region after jumping from a helicopter in the aerodynamic suit.

He doubled for actor Daniel Craig for a section of the London Games curtain-raiser which saw the spy jump alongside the Queen with Union flag-emblazoned parachutes after flying to Stratford by helicopter from Buckingham Palace.

The experienced skydiver is thought to have been travelling at around 120 mph when he hit the ridge.

Jean-Marie Bornet of the Valais police service said his injuries were so severe that experts were forced to identify his body with a DNA test.

Gary Connery, who played the Queen in the stunt last year, told the Sun he had lost a close friend who was “smart, articulate and funny”.

He added: “In any sport where you share a common bond you can make friends in a heartbeat that last a lifetime. My relationship with Mark was like that.”

Mark Sutton in action at the London 2012 opening ceremony

Danny Boyle tribute

Danny Boyle, creative director of the London 2012 opening ceremony, said: “As one of the world’s top skydivers and stuntmen his death is 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.

“They were a delight to work with and after each practice jump brought their cheery, carefree smiles into the stadium control room.

Their courage, professionalism and modesty was always a boost for those of us locked inside the park. Disciplined and brave in situations most of us would find terrifying, Mark was also a gentle and thoughtful man.

“Courtesy of loading the helicopter in Essex, and thereby avoiding the official security ban on alcohol in the park during rehearsal, he and Gary also smuggled with them an excellent bottle of wine for the crew each evening and before we all went home we would often drink their health.”

Film shoot

The Swiss police said Mr Sutton died after jumping with a friend from a helicopter while wearing a wingsuit above the Grandes-Otannes area, close to the French border.

In a statement, they said the pair jumped from a height of 10,826ft (3,300m) at around 11am on Wednesday and had planned to land close to the hamlet of Le Peuty, near Trient.

But a preliminary investigation suggests that he hit a ridge.

The statement added: “He was staying in Chamonix (in France) with 20 followers, considered among the best in the world in this discipline,” the statement said.

It added that they were in the region as guests of a company that makes extreme sport films for the internet.