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Son witnessed death jump

THE son of banking executive David Ball witnessed his father's fatal final parachute jump.

Oscar Ball, 16, travelled with his father to Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire and was there when father-of-three Mr Ball, 56, suffered a parachute malfunction and plunged to his death.

The pupil of Stewart's Melville school in Edinburgh was said to be inconsolable.

The teenager is also a qualified solo skydiver with more than 20 jumps to his credit but it is not known if he had also been planning to jump on Saturday.

He made his first solo skydive days after turning 16 in October last year. On Twitter, he had reported being "absolutely buzzing" after packing his father's parachute for a previous jump.

Tributes to Mr Ball, a senior figure in banking circles having worked at the Bank of Scotland for 20 years and latterly at the Co-operative Banking Group, described him as popular and a true professional.

Mr Ball's other son, Elliot, 18, has flown home from training with the Scottish ski squad in France. He was in the middle of a continental training camp with the national junior squad.

Arrangements were made for him to fly back to Scotland to join his mother Ruth, 55, Oscar and sister Rowan at the family's home in Barnton, Edinburgh.

Investigations are continuing into the accident, in which Mr Ball fell close to Strathallan Castle, away from the landing zone. Mr Ball died on impact after the jump from 3000ft.

Cloudy weather meant it was unsafe for the launch plane to go higher than 3000ft-4000ft. The minimum safe height is around 2500ft, while ideal conditions can see jumps from 15,000ft.

Investigators are looking at the possibility the low launch height may have played a role. The low height meant the first parachute would have been deployed almost immediately.

It is understood Mr Ball believed he had a problem with his initial parachute. However, the reserve parachute had not been pulled and investigators are probing whether he was too close to the ground by that stage.

A spokesman for the Co-operative Banking Group, where he was IT Integration Director, said: "We are shocked and saddened to hear of David's death and our thoughts are with his family. He was a true professional, very popular and will be deeply missed throughout the business."

He had also been IT Services Director at HBOS. A spokesman said: "He will be sorely missed by his former colleagues, many of whom still work for the group. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Tony Butler, of the British Parachute Association (BPA), said: "The BPA, whenever there is a fatal accident, will immediately instigate a board of inquiry to investigate. It is top priority and we would expect it to be finished within a couple of weeks."

The BPA probe is conducted on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority and the findings will also go to the procurator-fiscal.

Skydive Strathallan manager Kieran Brady did not comment. The centre has reopened.

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