Sky Diver
Two skydivers suited up. Getty Images

A heroic skydiver plunged to his death after saving the life of a student whose equipment failed during a training exercise. Carl Marsh, 46, died at the scene from multiple injuries sustained in the fall.

Mr Marsh came to aid of Dominic Leeds after his equipment snapped during a training day for a tandem skydive. He was able to release the reserve parachute but then became tangled in the primary chute.

Mr Marsh was able to cut himself free, but it is believed he then lost consciousness as his own chute sent him spiralling to the ground. He died at the scene with his teenage son Craig at his side.

"He was the best dad I could have had – he did everything for me," Craig Marsh, 19, said at an inquest. "He was always looking out for others and always put other people first before himself."

The incident took place at the Black Knights Parachute Centre in Cockerham, near Lancaster on 29 April, 2017 following a jump from 8,000 feet in a Cessna Caravan aircraft.

"I didn't immediately execute my emergency procedures because I was worried that Carl was very close or behind me," Mr Leeds said. "I said to him: 'Mate, my brake line has broken' and I remember him replying to me: 'Okay buddy, don't worry.'

"We were coming through the clouds at this point and he said: 'Don't worry I'll come and dock on your canopy and we will go down together'."

The pair jumped so Mr Marsh - who performed 1,150 jumps around the world - could teach Mr Leeds - who had jumped 400 times - a manoeuvre in which jumpers fly in close proximity then attach themselves to another jumper and their own chute in a 'stack'.

The move is called a 'canopy formation'.

"I should have told him we will go down side to side – at this point we had plenty of time to fly down safely before having to deploy my reserve parachute.

"We achieved the dock and we went through the cloud. As we came through the cloud Carl started to steer us back towards the main landing area. We had good communications at this point. I saw two parachutes down below me so I said: 'Can we wait a second whilst they separate' and Carl turned us in a different direction.

"At this point Carl was telling me I needed to break off. I remember having a huge surge of adrenaline as the reality and fear of what was happening set in. Carl said: 'Come on buddy you need to cut away,' and he said this as an instruction.

I pulled out the red lever and released my canopy and fell away from him. I went into free fall and then deployed my reserve parachute. As I cut free, my primary parachute became wrapped around Carl's legs. I had so much adrenaline at this point I couldn't tell whether he said anything else to me but I don't remember him saying anything. I looked back to see that Carl was spiralling with my canopy on the bottom of his legs."

Coroner James Newman said: "This is a hazardous sport and Carl deliberately put himself in harm's way to help his student. Carl Marsh attempted to assist, putting himself at risk and subsequently became entangled in a primary parachute that had been released leading to the involvement of a catastrophic spin.

"This resulted in unconsciousness and Carl was therefore unable to recover the spin and suffered catastrophic and fatal injuries passing away at the scene. It is a testament to his character that he stepped in to help, in doing so he put himself in danger."

In a statement, Mr Marsh's family said: "Carl had a big personality and a positive outlook on life. He was full of jokes and laughter and always had a huge smile on his face. He loved nothing more than to have a laugh and joke with us all and never failed to bring a bright light into our lives. His enormous heart was big enough for every one of us and he loved life to the full."