August 15, 2013

Stuntman of Olympics fame dies in wingsuit crash

The former army officer was an accomplished skydiver who starred in one of the most memorable parts of the 2012 Summer Games opening ceremony.

By Jill Lawless and John Heilprin / The Associated Press

GENEVA — The British stuntman who parachuted into the London Olympics opening ceremony as James Bond has been killed in an accident in the Swiss Alps while flying a special wingsuit.

click image to enlarge

In this July 27, 2012, photo, stuntman Mark Sutton, dressed as James Bond, parachutes into the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.

AP

Online extreme sports broadcaster Epic TV said Thursday that Mark Sutton was killed during a gathering it had organized involving 20 wingsuit pilots who were filmed as they jumped from helicopters. The firm said Sutton's death was "a tragic loss for the global wingsuit community."

Wingsuits – aerodynamic jumpsuits that make wearers look like winged superheroes – allow flyers to jump from planes or helicopters and soar long distances before opening parachutes to land.

Swiss police confirmed that Sutton died Wednesday when he crashed into a rocky ridge near Trient in the Valais region. They gave his age as 42.

The former army officer was an accomplished skydiver who had a starring role in one of the most memorable parts of the 2012 Summer Games opening ceremony.

It began with a filmed sequence in which Daniel Craig's James Bond escorted Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace and into a helicopter. Stunt doubles of Bond and the queen then performed a live parachute jump into the Olympic Stadium. Sutton was the tuxedo-clad Bond, while his friend Gary Connery wore a pink dress and wig to play the queen.

Connery told The Sun newspaper that he had lost a close friend who was "smart, articulate and funny."

"In any sport where you share a common bond you can make friends in a heartbeat that last a lifetime," he was quoted as saying. "My relationship with Mark was like that."

Valais police said Thursday that Sutton jumped from a helicopter at 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) but fell to his death after crashing into a mountain ridge.

Epic TV editor in chief Trey Cook said Sutton jumped with another diver who was wearing a camera, though the moment of impact had not been captured on film.

Sutton worked as a derivatives adviser to British bank RBS, which offered condolences to his family Thursday.

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