Olympic ceremony stuntman killed in wing-dive accident
Mark Sutton, who thrilled millions as a parachuting James Bond in the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, died yesterday as he crashed into a mountain ridge in Switzerland after wing-diving from a helicopter. Sutton, 42, is believed to have died on impact after colliding into the Swiss Alps at speeds of around 155mph.
The tragedy occurred on the first day of a three-day non-competitive wing-suit exhibition organised by online extreme sports channel Epic TV. The event, named Helibase 74, was an invitational exercise to film the world’s 20 top wing-suit divers and was described by the editor in chief of Epic TV as a “really casual event”. The Epic TV cameras captured Sutton’s crash and have handed the footage to the police atop pledging not to release it.
Danny Boyle, the artistic director of the London Olympic opening ceremony, has lead tributes for the daredevil and former captain in the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Boyle’s statement read: “The show was built from so many contributions from so many people, none finer and braver than Mark Sutton. On behalf of everyone in the show we were all honoured to have worked with him and to have known him as a friend and a professional.”
Gary Connery, Sutton’s close friend and the Queen to his Bond in the opening ceremony, posted an emotional farewell on Facebook.
“Mark Sutton was without doubt the best, No.1 Bond ever, style, panache, and looks to match, and he did his own stunts!! Love you and miss you, my WINGMAN forever.”
However, with the tributes comes recognition of the inherent danger of the sport and a plea for other skydiver’s to take heed and care. As well as Facebook Connery took to twitter to say: “All you jumpers/flyers out there, stay safe, make wise choices and know your limits and your locations, live to tell your stories.”
All of the Helibase 74 wing-divers have elected to continue the event in Sutton’s honour, except for his friend Tony Uragallo who dived just seconds before him.
Uragallo also had the unenviable task of phoning Sutton’s girlfriend Victoria Homewood to break the awful news. She was waiting in the nearby village of Chamonix for his return. One can only hope she, like Mark Sutton’s cousin Sally Findlay, can find some sanctuary that he “died doing what he loved”.