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Devon skydiver died after going into a spin following base jump in Switzerland

By TomBevan  |  Posted: February 05, 2013

Gary Harbird

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THE family of an experienced and record breaking skydiver who was killed when a base jump went wrong said he knew the risks but was "living the dream."
Gary Harbird, 28, died instantly from severe head injuries after going into an spin after leaping from the notorious High Ultimate jump in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland in January 2011.
His inquest at Exeter's County Hall today heard how he opened his parachute but hit the cliff face before becoming entangled in a tree.
Gary, who had been living in America since the age of 17, had just recently been at his family's Honiton home for Christmas when he went on a holiday to the Alps with a friend Christopher Peterson. He was the first of the duo to make the jump.
In a statement Mr Peterson said Gary had taken off strongly but he had noticed he had got into trouble before he disappeared from view. After jumping himself he saw Gary's parachute hanging in a tree. He tried to call out to him and then landed safely where the emergency services were called.
No drugs or alcohol was found in Gary's system and there was no evidence of external interference. He had been wearing a helmet but it had been ripped off before impact.
Coroner Elizabeth Earland recorded a verdict of accidental death. After the inquest Gary's mum Alison Harbird, who lives in St Leonard's Road, Honiton, said she wanted to emphasise that he was not reckless in his actions. She said: "He prepared for all his jumps and he knew what he was doing. "His whole world was sky diving. He fulfilled his life dream doing it for a living and he was living his dream.
"He knew the risks but took all the precautions he could."

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