Briton’s parachute fails in 140m French base jump - and he survives

A tree broke his fall and he was lucky enough to drop just as some French fishermen were nearby and could help

A view of the Verrière viaduct in Aguessac, Aveyron
The Verrière viaduct in Aguessac, Aveyron, is 140 metres high, and is a motorway bridge across a valley and the small stream of Lumensonesque
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A British man who fell 140 metres after his parachute failed as he jumped from a French viaduct has miraculously survived, with the help of French fishermen.

The incident happened on Sunday, March 10, at the Verrière viaduct in Aguessac, Aveyron (Occitanie), at around 16:30. The viaduct is a motorway bridge on the A75 road.

The man, in his 40s and from England, was taking part in ‘BASE jumping’.

This is a sport in which people jump from fixed objects, using a parachute (or a wingsuit) to descend safely to the ground. The ‘BASE’ acronym stands for the four types of fixed objects from which participants can jump: Buildings, Antennas (masts), Spans (bridges), and Earth (cliffs).

Yet, when this man jumped, he was not able to open his parachute in time, before he became tangled in a tree and then dropped into the Lumensonesque, a small brook at the bottom of the viaduct.

The man was lucky enough not only to survive the fall, but also to have dropped into the water at a time when some fishermen were close by. The latter managed to drag the man to the bank, and save him from drowning.

This is despite sports and leisure pursuits in the water having been banned at the time, as a result of poor weather conditions and strong currents caused by Storm Monica, in which several people in France died. It is always forbidden to BASE jump from the viaduct.

Emergency services from nearby Millau attended the scene soon afterwards, and treated the man for back pain before taking him to hospital.

A gendarmerie inquiry into the accident has now been opened.

The incident comes almost a year after a similar BASE jumping accident happened at the same viaduct.

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