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Teacher died attempting ‘risky’ skydiving move, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 09:07 23 October 2018

Inspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOL

Inspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOL

A young teacher died after attempting a “high performance” skydiving manoeuvre, an inquest heard.

Inspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOLInspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOL

James Brooke, 26, suffered life-threatening injuries after getting into difficulty while landing a jump at Beccles Airfield on Saturday, May 19.

At an inquest into his death on Monday, coroner Dan Sharpstone described how Mr Brooke, a highly experienced skydiver, had planned to film a second pair of parachutists making their descent, remaining in free fall before deploying his own parachute shortly after.

According to an inquiry into the incident conducted by the British Parachuting Association (BPA), the main part of the jump went smoothly and Mr Brooke was able to deploy his own parachute without any problems.

However he encountered complications when he “misjudged” a 270 degree turn close to the ground, resulting in a hard landing, the inquest heard.

Inspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOLInspirational teacher James Brooke, 26, died following a skydiving accident at Beccles Airfield Picture: RIVERWALK SCHOOL

The “high performance” manoeuvre, known as ‘swooping’, was described as “very dangerous when attempted at the wrong height”.

Mr Brooke suffered significant, non-survivable brain injuries, and passed away at Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital.

Concluding the inquest, Dr Sharpstone ruled that this was an “accidental death”.

“He misjudged this and therefore came down heavily, resulting in a serious head injury,” he said.

Addressing Mr Brooke’s family, he added: “You of course have our commissaries and condolences. Nobody wants a family to go through a sudden death.”

There were no faults found with any of Mr Brooke’s equipment.

A Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), Mr Brooke taught the Meerkat class at Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds, a school for children with complex and profound learning needs.

In a tribute issued shortly after his death, headteacher Jan Hatchell described Mr Brooke as ‘amazing’.

“I have been in special education for a very long time and you don’t come across many like James, she said.

“If anything that is what is so devastating. He had developed such amazing relationships with the young people - he invested himself in young people.


“He had some very challenging needs to meet in his class and the children were making fantastic progress,

“The staff are devastated as he leaves such a gap.

“What you felt when you were with James was that he cared.

“The field of special education has lost somebody that would have made a real difference.”

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