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BASE jumper Chad Smith returning to Dover cliffs where he avoided death by inches

A BASE jumper is this week planning to leap off the same cliff where he escaped death by mere inches only four months ago.

Horrified friends of Chad Smith, from Maidstone, watched on as he jumped off a Dover cliff and hurtled 180ft towards a rock bed after throwing his parachute in the wrong direction.

A huge emergency response was scrambled to the coast on Friday, December 28, to treat the 27-year-old who miraculously only suffered injuries to his vertebrae and pelvis.

Chad Smith. Picture: Facebook (6544180)
Chad Smith. Picture: Facebook (6544180)

He was airlifted by coastguard helicopter to the top of the cliff at St Margaret’s Bay, before being transferred to an air ambulance and flown to Kings College Hospital in London.

BASE jumping, which stands for building, antenna, span, and earth, is the act of throwing yourself off fixed objects and is thought to be among the most dangerous forms of sport.

Mr Smith spent three weeks in hospital during his recovery, and vowed the near-miss had not put him off the sport and now - true to his word - he is set to return to exactly the same spot.

Police, the ambulance service and others at the scene (6473883)
Police, the ambulance service and others at the scene (6473883)

"You've got to get back on the horse - if you fall off, you don't just walk away from it," he said.

"It's been a fairly quick recovery and I'm feeling absolutely fine, I even stopped taking pain-killers while in hospital at the end of January.

"I've been going to the gym a lot and doing plenty of swimming to build up my strength, so it's definitely time - I'm hoping to get down there at some point this week."

During the incident at the end of last year, Mr Smith, who lives in Tovil, had thrown open his pilot chute downwards, rather than upwards, meaning the parachute did not open as quickly as it should have done.

Chad Smith (6499102)
Chad Smith (6499102)

As a result, he claimed, he had less than two-and-half seconds to react to the malfunction in order to try and avoid tragedy.

He said: "There was nothing I could do, the ground was coming towards me and I really thought I was going to die - if it had opened a millisecond later, I'd have been dead."

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