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Scottish bank chief dies as his parachute fails to open

A LEADING figure in Scotland's financial industry has been killed during a parachute jump after his back-up chute failed to deploy.

VICTIM: Experienced skydriver David Ball died instantly in the accident at Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire.
VICTIM: Experienced skydriver David Ball died instantly in the accident at Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire.

David Ball, a married father-of-three who was a senior figure in the IT department of the Co-operative Bank, died instantly in the accident at Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire on Saturday.

The 56-year-old, who lived with his wife Ruth and their family in the Barnton area of Edinburgh, was described as an experienced skydiver who had successfully completed more than 50 jumps.

It emerged yesterday that Mr Ball died after cutting away his first parachute during a 3000-foot jump. The term refers to disconnecting the main parachute from the harness-container in case of a malfunction His back-up parachute did not deploy.

Jumps at Skydive Strathallan, which has seen a number of incidents involving skydivers, including a fatality in recent years, have been suspended amid an investigation by Tayside Police and the British Parachute Association.

Mr Ball was a qualified fixed-wing and helicopter pilot who was also a keen cyclist, skier and swimmer. A friend described his family as totally distraught.

He had been IT Integration Director with the Co-operative Banking Group since 2011 and held a number of directorships in the information technology sector.

He was formerly a director of IT and Procurement with Tesco Bank and head of group technology at HBOS, and spent eight years as head of corporate banking at Bank of Scotland.

A Tayside Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that the identity of the person who tragically died in a parachute incident at Strathallan Airfield is David Ball from the Barnton area of Edinburgh. Enquiries are continuing today with the assistance from representatives of the British Parachute Association.

"As with all sudden deaths, a full report will be submitted to the procurator-fiscal. The family of Mr Ball request that their privacy be respected at this sad time."

Skydive Strathallan manager Kieron Brady declined to comment yesterday.

Mr Ball was known to club members as a semi-regular visitor to Strathallan.

A source said: "He had been to Strathallan plenty of times and was a fairly experienced guy. He would probably have already completed between 50 and 100 jumps."

He is understood to have been one of several skydivers who carried out solo jumps on Saturday from a height of 3000-4000 feet.

Cloudy weather meant it was unsafe for the launch plane to go any higher before letting skydivers jump.

The minimum safe height is about 2500 feet, while ideal conditions can allow jumps from 15,000 feet.

Investigators are looking at the possibility the relatively low launch height may have played a key role in the accident. This meant the first parachute would have deployed immediately upon leaving the aircraft.

It is the latest incident at the airfield. Last February, Greg Benson, from East Kilbride in South Lanarkshire, was left with relatively minor injuries after he landed in a grassy field that cushioned his fall.

He had plunged 3500 feet into the ground and survived after his lines became tangled.

In August 2011, Zoe Sievwright, of Dundee, was completing a solo dive for charity at the airfield when both her main and reserve parachutes failed to deploy. She also survived.

In 2001 Craig Paton, from Kilmarnock, also survived a similar incident.

He was left in a critical condition after hitting the ground at 40mph but made a full recovery.

In May 2004, skydiver Alastair McLaren, 39, died at the airfield after apparently sabotaging his parachute to take his life.

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