• Switzerland edition
 
US wingsuit flyer dies after weekend accident
A wingsuit flyer in action. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

US wingsuit flyer dies after weekend accident

Published: 03 Apr 2014 15:42 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Apr 2014 15:42 GMT+02:00

Drake, 33, passed away on Wednesday evening in hospital, Bern cantonal police said in a statement.

Police did not reveal the victim's name, but on its Facebook page the World Wingsuit League (WWL) identified him as Drake, saying he had been in a coma since Saturday's accident.

The league set up a special page in Drake's honour, where dozens of people posted messages and shared memories, photos and videos of his jumps and footage he shot of others in action.

"He was the most incredible, wise, kind, adventurous, funny, supportive, loving brother one could ever wish for," wrote his younger brother, Jordan Drake, in a moving tribute on the site.

Wingsuit divers wear special jumpsuits that add surface area to the body, enabling them to glide like a bird, before opening a parachute like a regular skydiver.

Drake was one of the biggest names in the wingsuit community, travelling the globe for competition meets and known for his breathtaking jumps.

Along with experienced wingsuit flyers New Zealander Dan Vicary, 33, and French wingsuit icon Ludovic Woerth, 34, Drake had jumped from a helicopter over the Lütschental near Bern last Saturday.

The trio had planned to land in the valley, but crashed into an Alpine pasture, police said.

Vicary and Woerth were found dead on site when rescuers arrived at the scene, and the American was rushed to a hospital by helicopter.

The investigation into the causes of the accident is ongoing, police said.

The wingsuit league offered its condolences to the family of the sportsman, who had moved from the United States to Europe to practise his sport.

The Swiss Alps are a magnet for wingsuit divers, base-jumpers and other extreme sports enthusiasts.

On its website, the Swiss newspaper Blick published an interview with French wingsuit diver Vincent Descols, who had made the same jump the previous day.

Descols told Blick that the cause of the accident appeared to be a dive-zone error after the three men jumped from the helicopter at an altitude of 2,750 metres (9,022 feet).

But instead of finding themselves above a deep gorge, as planned, they were actually above the flat pasture.

Unable to reach the safety of the gorge, they had just three seconds to open their parachutes, which was too little time.

"I'm really upset, but I'm not blaming anyone," Descols told Blick, saying that nobody would know how to react in such a high-pressure situation.

"All three of them were great flyers, and this could happen to any of us," he said.

Around 20 people are killed each year taking part in the extreme sport.

British wingsuit diver and stuntman Mark Sutton— best known for parachuting into the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony dressed as James Bond — died last August when he crashed into a Swiss mountain ridge after jumping from a helicopter.

This YouTube video from WWL, highlighting the exploits of another American wingsuit flyer, Jeb Corliss, illustrates the dangers involved:

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.ch)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Cable car worker plunges to death in safety check
View of Gant-Hohtälli cable car tower. Photo: Valais cantonal police

Cable car worker plunges to death in safety check

A 39-year-old worker checking a cable car during a safety inspection died on Tuesday afternoon after falling from a pylon near Zermatt in the canton of Valais, cantonal police said. READ  

Switzerland's Bencic knocked out of US Open
Peng was too much for Bencic, shown here in action. Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America/AFP

Switzerland's Bencic knocked out of US Open

Unseeded Peng Shuai of China swept past Swiss teen Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday to reach the US Open women's tennis tournament semifinals. READ  

Witnesses sought after police car runs over man
The police car was responding to an assault complaint in Payerne. Photo: Alain Rouiller

Witnesses sought after police car runs over man

Investigators are seeking witnesses after a police car ran over a 22-year-old man who died on the A1 motorway in the canton of Fribourg last week as officers responded to a call from another man the victim had been in contact with, who reported having been assaulted. READ  

Tories pledge to expand UK expat voting rights
Tories promise expat Brits the right vote in the UK for the rest of their lives — if they win re-election. Photo: Hagwall/Flickr

Tories pledge to expand UK expat voting rights

The Conservative party in the UK is wooing expat voters by pledging to end the controversial “15-year rule” that prevents thousands of Brits in Switzerland and millions elsewhere abroad from being able to vote. READ  

Swiss economy slows down in second quarter
Graph showing GDP growth over past five years. Source: Seco

Swiss economy slows down in second quarter

The Swiss economy ground to a halt in the second quarter of this year with the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) unchanged from the first three months of 2014, government figures released on Tuesday show. READ  

Nude selfies secretary agrees to step down
Woman taking a selfie (not the secretary involved in Bern). Photo: Getty Images/AFP

Nude selfies secretary agrees to step down

A Swiss parliament secretary who posted naked selfies on her Twitter account after posing for the photos in her government office has agreed to give up her job. READ  

Wawrinka overcomes cramps in New York win
Photo: Al Belo/Getty Images North America/AFP

Wawrinka overcomes cramps in New York win

The Swiss third seed Stan Wawrinka battled cramps and a frightening fall on Monday but emerged with a gutsy four-set victory over Tommy Robredo and a quarterfinal place in the US Open tennis tournament. READ  

Burkhalter hails Second World War mobilization
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter. Photo: FDFA

Burkhalter hails Second World War mobilization

Swiss President Didier Burkhalter on Monday thanked the country’s citizens who mobilized 75 years earlier to defend the mountain country when the Second World War broke out. READ  

Swiss pay UK and Austria over tax dodging
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss pay UK and Austria over tax dodging

Switzerland said on Monday that it had completed a programme to pay Britain and Austria hundreds of millions of euros in settlements for past tax-dodging by their citizens. READ  

Japan Novartis unit failed to report 'drug deaths'
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

Japan Novartis unit failed to report 'drug deaths'

The Japanese unit of Swiss pharma giant Novartis has admitted it did not report more than 2,500 cases of serious side effects in patients using its leukaemia and other cancer drugs, reportedly including some fatalities. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Car insurance made easy online with St Bernard
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Business & Money
Court rules against appellation for absinthe from Neuchâtel valley
National
Two hundred passengers rescued after landslide derails Swiss train
Travel
Switzerland remains world champion for per capita train travel
Culture
Social media backlash forces Polanski to bow out of Locarno film festival
National
Two policemen identified among three Israelis killed in train crash
Features
Untouched Alps: The Local explores Switzerland's only national park
National
Swiss government secretary tweets nude ‘selfies’ taken at work
International
Swiss couples fined in Ibiza for making love in van without seatbelts
National
Schumacher medical record theft suspect hangs himself in Zurich cell
National
Thousands of motorists drive without permits in Switzerland: report
National
Switzerland celebrates the centennial of national park in Graubünden
National
Animal rights group protests over dead fish throwing at festival
National
Federer forced to tear down kids' play area at Graubünden holiday home
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,034
jobs available