A British man plunged to his death in a paragliding accident in Argentina when he slipped loose from his harness. David Mather, 28, plummeted 230ft to the ground after he became detached from his instructor as his brother and best friend looked on. Witnesses said Mr Mather began screaming almost as soon as the paraglider was launched and saw his instructor trying to hold on to him.
Heartbroken: David Mather, pictured with his girlfriend Lydia Brown, slipped free of his harness on his first paraglide in Argentina Mr Mather's body was found in a garden at the foot of a hill close to where his brother and best friend had watched him take off. He died instantly.
The council worker, who lived in Kingston, London, was making his first flight and was supposed to be attached to his instructor. The tragedy happened on New Year's Eve in the Salta province in north-west Argentina. Mr Mather had gone to the South American country for a holiday and to visit his brother, Gareth, who lives there and has a company which conducts jeep tours. Gareth, 29, said it was clear immediately when the pair took off that something was wrong.
He said: 'People were shouting that he wasn't hooked up properly. You could see him slipping from the harness and the instructor reaching down trying to grab him. 'Then they went out of sight behind a hill.'
His brother rushed to the spot where Mr Mather fell to find paramedics already there. But he could not be saved and died at the scene.
Mr Mather's best friend Nikesh Patel had done the same flight safely just minutes before. Mr Mather was killed when paragliding in Salta, Argentina, on New Year's Eve (file picture)But he revealed afterwards: 'The instructor told me he didn't have much experience.'Mr Mather's heartbroken girlfriend, Lydia Brown, and parents, Ian and Ceri, arrived in Salta at the weekend.
His family are accusing the firm which runs these flights - where the passenger glides through the air attached to a parachute at up to 34mph - of negligence. Jody Hockley, 28, of Esher, Surrey, paid tribute to his friend Mr Mather, saying: 'He was the nicest guy in the world.' Witnesses told Argentina's Diario Panorama newspaper of the horrifying moment Mr Mather fell to his death.
One described how he shouted as he desperately struggled to cling on to his instructor as the two were taking off and that the instructor tried in vain to hold him. The witness said he was out watering his garden when he heard the screams and looked up to see Mr Mather falling on to a neighbour's property. He said Mr Mather crashed through palm trees and landed on a mini-golf course.
The witness added that after the instructor landed nearby, he stood motionless next to Mr Mather's body, appearing to be in shock.