31 Mar 2014

NZ 'birdman' dies in Swiss skydive

5:46 pm on 31 March 2014

A New Zealander who died in a skydiving accident in Switzerland has been named as 33-year-old Dan Vicary.

Dan Vicary.

Dan Vicary. Photo: FACEBOOK

Mr Vicary and a 34-year-old French citizen jumped from a helicopter in the Swiss Alps on Sunday, but crashed into a field in the Sengg area and died at the scene.

A third person seriously injured has been reported to also be a New Zealander, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is following up checks on the nationality with local authorities.

The trio were wingsuit diving, which involves free-falling in a special suit.

Mr Vicary was a resident in Switzerland. Many farewells and messages of sympathy have been posted on his profile on the social media website Facebook.

Dan Vicary, base jumping.

Dan Vicary, base jumping. Photo: FACEBOOK

The profile says he was "a sensation seeker with a lust for life, who has been chasing the dream of human flight since he was just a boy".

Police say the three men jumped from a helicopter over the Luetschen valley on Sunday with the intention of landing there.

It is not yet clear how the accident happened, but the BBC's correspondent in Geneva says it was a beautiful day with little wind and good visibility, so the weather is unlikely to have been a factor.

Wingsuit diving involves free-falling in a special suit, sometimes called a birdman suit, which adds surface area between the legs and under the arms.

Dan Vicary, on an earlier skydive in a wingsuit.

Dan Vicary, on an earlier skydive in a wingsuit. Photo: FACEBOOK