A skydiver who survived a mid-air collision which caused the death of one of the country’s leading wine merchants shouted “I’ve killed him” as he lay injured, an inquest has heard.
Patrick Sandeman died following a jump at Sibson Aerodrome, just over the county border near Peterborough, last September.
He had collided with fellow skydiver, Matt Le Berre, on the approach to the landing zone, an inquest at Lawrence Court, Huntingdon, heard on Thursday, February 21.
As fellow skydivers and paramedics fought to save Mr Sandeman’s life, Mr Le Berre was heard screaming in pain.
Jump-master Michael Wilson-Roberts rushed to help both men within seconds of them hitting the ground.
He said: “Matt was shouting ‘It’s my fault, my friend, my friend, I’ve killed him’. He was also muttering in French.
“I can’t say he was completely lucid. He was in a bad way and may not have been aware what he was saying but I can’t deny what I heard.”
Mr Sandeman, of Montolieu Gardens, Putney, south-west London, was pronounced dead at the scene and had suffered injuries to his head, ribs and pelvis.
The 53-year-old, who had completed 677 previous jumps, was a partner in Lea & Sandeman, the fine wine merchants and was described after his death as “a total ornament to the British wine trade”.
The inquest heard that on September 22, Mr Le Berre and Mr Sandeman had jumped from the same plane.
The airfield was busy that day and there was little wind.
Their jumps were staggered for safety reasons with Mr Le Berre jumping as part of the first group of nine and Mr Sandeman part of a second group of four.
Both left the plane at about 14,000ft (4,267m), reaching speeds of up to 200mph (322kph) in freefall before deploying their parachutes between 5,000ft (1,524m) and 2,500ft (762m).
Giving evidence, Mr Le Berre, who had completed 488 jumps, said he was slowing after performing an advanced “swooping” manoeuvre - involving a sudden turn and increase in speed - when he saw Mr Sandeman below him.
Programmer Mr Le Berre, 28, originally from France but now living in London, said he remembered pulling on his breaks but could not prevent his knees hitting Mr Sandeman’s canopy and tangling their parachute lines.
Mr Wilson-Roberts told the inquest that swooping turns created unpredictable landing patterns and made it more difficult for skydivers to predict one another’s movements.
He was part of Mr Sandeman’s group and captured a video of the jump using a head camera.
It showed the early stages of the jump unfolding uneventfully before the camera lost sight of Mr Sandeman.
Mr Sandeman’s wife and son left the inquest as this was played to the inquest.
“It was only when I landed and was alerted by my wife that I found out they had collided,” Mr Wilson-Roberts said.
“When I arrived at the accident scene, Pat was laying there completely silent and Matt on his side facing him.
“It was quickly established that Pat wasn’t alive and we needed to do CPR.”