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Last Updated: Friday, 25 February, 2005, 08:24 GMT
Fatal bungee jump was 'accident'
Christopher Thomas
Christopher Thomas died after suffering head injuries
A coroner has demanded stronger safety rules for bungee jumps after hearing how a 20-stone man plunged to his death at a charity event.

Chris Thomas, 22, of Canton, Cardiff died after a harness tore off, but the inquest in Swansea heard that his weight was within agreed guidelines.

His death in August 2002 was the first in the UK during a charity bungee jump.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded. An investigation found no fault with the equipment or operators.

He was the heaviest bungee jumper I had dealt with in hundreds of jumps
Jump master Robert Rae
The coroner, Philip Rogers said it was "essential" the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought in new minimum standards to avoid future tragedies.

He said he would take action under the Coroners' Act to make sure the HSE took note of his ruling.

Forensic engineer Dr David Jones, who carried out tests on the equipment, gave evidence at the inquest.

He said that, although the equipment had been declared safe by the guidelines, it was really only safe for a person weighing 90 kilos (14st 1lb), and Mr Thomas weighed 132 kilos (20st 10lbs).

He said that 90 kilos was "the absolute upper limit".

"Even that leaves no margin for error. Sadly the accident was almost inevitable," he said.

Dr Jones told the inquest the force of the fall would have torn-off the leg cuffs.

"The back-up line was not strong enough to take the load and that in turn broke," he added.

The inquest heard up to 20 volunteers had jumped at the event at the Old Barn pub in Swansea, before Mr Thomas stepped into the cage high above the car park.

His father, retired police inspector David Thomas, and partner Anne Perkins were in the 300 strong crowd watching the charity event to raise 5,000 for Morriston Hospital's neurology unit.

Mr Thomas was taken to that unit just minutes after the fall but died from head injuries seven hours later.

Robert Rae, who was the jump master on the day, said: "He was the heaviest bungee jumper I had dealt with in hundreds of jumps.

Police seal off the crane after the accident
Chris Thomas fell 60ft from the crane above the pub's car park

"I have never seen leg harnesses come off before. There was nothing in the way the harnesses were tied or in the jump itself (that) were unusual."

The inquest heard police and council officials investigated the tragedy but there was no evidence to warrant criminal charges against jump operator Freefall Bungee Wales.

Constable Tony O'Leary said: "The operators were within guidelines and code of practice.

"The guidelines had been laid by their organisation, health and safety and local councils."

The company never staged another bungee jump and stopped operating.

After the inquest, Mr Thomas' father backed safety calls.

"We have lost a wonderful son we dearly loved," he said.

"The guidelines for bungee jumping are ridiculous and need to be reviewed and developed."

No charges over bungee death
17 Feb 04 |  Wales
Report into bungee jump death
07 May 03 |  Wales

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