Dean Walton: 'Red Devils' Sergeant plunges 3,500ft to death after freak parachute collision

Dean Walton: 'Red Devils' Sergeant plunges 3,500ft to death after freak parachute collision
Sergeant Dean Walton worked as a parachutist and instructor for more than 17 years (Nimsdai Purji/Facebook)

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND: The Sergeant Major of the British Army’s globally renowned parachute display team tragically fell to his death during a training jump in Spain on Friday, October 14.

Sergeant Dean Walton of the Red Devils plunged more than 3,500ft after the lines of his parachute got tangled with another jumper’s parachute and caused his canopy to collapse. As per a report by Daily Mail, the tragic mid-air collision sent him spinning and made him crash land at high speed at a drop zone.

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The Sergeant was pronounced dead at the drop zone despite emergency medical treatment. The jumper who collided with him and later tried to save him gave a harrowing account of the accident on his Facebook. Nimsdai Purja, 39, a Nepalese mountaineer, wrote, "Dean and I were conducting canopy handling and stacking drills. We left the aircraft at 15,000ft and were under good canopies [fully deployed chutes] by 3,500ft. Dean approached and was positioned at 45 degrees directly behind and above."

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"This required deep brakes to stay in position and it is thought due to this Dean’s canopy stalled and collapsed, sending him through my canopy and entangling him within my lines," added Purja, who is also a former Special Boat Service trooper. "This sent us both into a severe spin and increased our fall rate dramatically. At this point I had no option but to cut away and pull my reserve. Dean’s canopy was inflated but descending at a faster rate. I identified he was seriously injured. I conducted life-saving treatment but due to the severity of his injuries I was unable to resuscitate him. I am devastated at the loss of Dean who was super talented and loved what he did."

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According to Sergeant Walton's LinkedIn profile, he hails from Portsmouth and had been working as a parachutist and instructor for more than 17 years. Walton is survived by his wife Shelby and one-year-old daughter Stella. His profile describes his role in the team as "coordinating the activities of a large team of highly skilled military parachute demonstrators. I am also responsible for equipment maintenance and team training."

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Sergeant Walton led his team on a performance last year to mark the entry of the England Women's Soccer team into the Euro 2020 Finale.

The Army said, “It is with sadness that we can confirm the death of Sergeant Dean Walton. Our thoughts are with the soldier’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

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