The British stuntman who parachuted into the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London dressed as James Bond died during a wingsuit jump in the Swiss Alps.
Swiss police confirmed that Mark Sutton died Wednesday when he crashed into a rocky ridge near Trient in the southwestern Valais region. He was 42.
Police, who are investigating Sutton’s fatal accident, said he crashed into a mountain ridge and fell to his death after jumping from a helicopter at 10,800 feet.
Sutton was featured in what many believe was the highlight of the 2012 Olympics’ opening ceremonies. The sequence began with James Bond actor Daniel Craig escorting Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace onto a helicopter. The scene concluded with Sutton dressed as Agent 007 jumping from a helicopter over London’s Olympic Stadium with another stuntman dressed as Queen Elizabeth.
The director of the ceremony, Danny Boyle, paid tribute to Sutton Thursday, saying he “made the stadium gasp … and left indelible memories for people from all walks of life all over the world.”
When Sutton, a former officer in the British Army, wasn’t playing Bond or captivating the royal family, he was respected as one of the world’s best wingsuit pilots. It’s a sport that simulates flying while darting past canyons, buildings and skimming treetops at speeds up to 125 mph and mere inches from the ground.
But it’s the love of the skies that brought Sutton and other fliers like him to new heights time and time again, all for that perfect view of the world from above.
For the athletes, it’s more a way of life than a spot. Even after Sutton’s fatal accident, many in his group decided to continue flying as a tribute to their fallen comrade.
Friends remembered Sutton as a gentle and thoughtful man, disciplined and brave in situations most people find terrifying.
Gary Connery, who played the queen in the stunt, told The Sun newspaper that he had lost a friend who was “smart, articulate and funny.”
“In any sport where you share a common bond, you can make friends in a heartbeat that last a lifetime,” he was quoted as saying. “My relationship with Mark was like that.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.