Mark Weir inquest: Helicopter crash death 'accident'

Mark Weir and Jan Wilkinson
Image caption Mark Weir and Jan Wilkinson had been together for 27 years

The death of a businessman in a helicopter crash in the Lake District was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Mark Weir, 45, who ran Honister Slate Mine in Cumbria, died when his Gazelle aircraft crashed near the mine.

The inquest heard the aircraft took off at 19:00 GMT on 8 March 2011 in poor visibility and low cloud.

The hearing was told Mr Weir, who ran the mine in Borrowdale, near Keswick, had no night flying qualifications and died from multiple injuries.

Mr Weir. a father-of-three, was probably returning to work when his helicopter crashed, according to senior air accident investigator Adrian Cope.

Mr Cope said flight data recorders showed his flight path was different from the route he normally took home from Honister mine.

He told the inquest in Cleator Moor it was not clear whether Mr Weir lost control of his helicopter or had become disorientated.

Mark Weir's partner Jan Wilkinson told the inquest he was an experienced pilot who did not take unnecessary risks and she had witnessed him getting out of difficulties while flying before.

A pathologist's report concluded Mr Weir could not have survived the force of the crash.

An earlier Air Accident Investigation Branch report said there was no evidence of mechanical failure with the aircraft.

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