Paraglider's 'error led to his death' in Devon crash

Image source, Kingsbridge Police
Image caption,
A lifeboat crew recovered the man from the sea

A paraglider who launched off a 200ft (60m) cliff crashed into the sea and died because there was not enough wind, an inquest heard.

Todd Albrecht, 56, was flying from Beesands in south Devon on 23 July last year, the inquest in Plymouth heard.

The experienced paraglider, from South Brent, started to fly towards Start Point when he crashed.

An accident investigator said the cause "would appear to be pilot error judgement".

The inquest heard Mr Albrecht was "exuberant and in good spirits" before the flight.

Friend and fellow paraglider Gary Venning said Mr Albrecht had flown above him, asking: "What are you waiting for?"

Mr Albrecht had told him, he said, there was "plenty of lift" as he soared about 300ft (100m) above him in winds of 8mph to 12mph (13km/h to 19km/h).

Mr Albrecht had started to fly to Start Point but Mr Venning lost sight of him.

Holidaymakers who saw Mr Albrecht flying low raised the alarm.

Mr Albrecht crashed into the sea, where he was found dead, the hearing was told.

'No landing options'

David Thompson, accident investigator for the British Hang Glider and Paragliding Association, said Mr Albrecht's equipment was in good condition.

Mr Thompson said: "It would appear to be pilot error judgement. By the time he realised he was in trouble, there were no landing options available to him."

He said Los Angeles-born Mr Albrecht was not wearing a buoyancy aid and had no knife to cut himself free.

Mr Thompson added: "Water landings must be avoided at all costs. Safe dry landings must always be in reach."

Coroner Ian Arrow said Mr Albrecht had lost height in "insufficient wind" and recorded a conclusion of accidental death.

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