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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 23 March, 2018

Coroner records verdict of death by misadventure after base-jumper fell 600 feet

The fall was captured on a friend’s Go Pro camera.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A DUBLIN MAN watched on as his base jumping partner hit off the Cliffs of Moher and  fell to his death last April.

In a deposition at the inquest in Ennis today into the death of Malcolm Rowley (45), Greg McEntee said that Malcolm’s parachute opened facing towards rather than away from the Cliffs.

Rowley’s parachute opened the wrong way after he ran and jumped off the cliffs and free-fell for a few seconds at around 7.10am on Saturday 22 April 2016.

McEntee said: “He hit the cliffs and hit it a few times bouncing off the cliff all the way to the bottom.”

Clare coroner, Isobel O’Dea recorded a verdict of misadventure after hearing that Rowley of Bantry, Cork, died as a result of multiple injuries sustained in the 600ft fall.

Moments before Rowley’s fatal jump, McEntee successfully performed the base jump and in his deposition said that he took a run and jump off the cliff and free-fell for three seconds before opening his parachute and guided it in for landing.

McEntee from Artane in Dublin said that after putting away his parachute following landing safely at the bottom of Aille na Serrach, it was his intention to video Malcolm’s jump.

He said: “I recorded it on my Go Pro.”

Parachute issues

He said that didn’t know how much of Malcolm’s jump he took as the camera was on his helmet. McEntee said that he saw Malcolm jump and that his body position looked okay in freefall.

He said: “Malcolm opened his parachute on time but when it opened, it didn’t open facing away from the cliffs.”

A third man and work colleague of McEntee at Tullamore Dew in Co Offaly, Scott Baird, travelled to the cliffs on the day to see the base-jumping.

The Scottish man said that Malcolm, Greg and himself posed for photos at the top of the cliffs before the base jumps took place.

Baird said that Greg and Malcolm looked at a video of a friend of Greg’s base jumping at the location on Greg’s phone before deciding at what spot to jump from.

McEntee said that his own jump was a mirror image of the one completed by his friend.

Giving his opinion as to why Rowley’s parachute didn’t open the right way, McEntee said: “There are different reasons that would cause the parachute to open the way it did. Even if you do everything right, there is a chance you would get one in a 100 that you get one facing onto the cliff.


He said: “We are trained to deal with situations like this if they arise, but it is hard to say what happened Malcolm – if he had enough time to manoeuvre away. It just appeared that he had no time to deal with the problem.”

McEntee said that Malcolm “was a fairly well experienced paraglider and had a reasonable amount of sky-diving and base-jumping experience. You wouldn’t call him a beginner.”

McEntee said that he has been sky-diving for ten years and base jumping for five years and met Malcolm on Facebook through mutual friends a month before the trip to the Cliffs of Moher.

He said that he was looking for someone to jump off the cliffs as it was not the kind of thing you do on your own.

He said: “I made contact with Malcolm on 21 April on doing a possible base jump at the Cliffs of Moher as the weather was looking good.”

After Rowley’s fall, McEntee said that he made the 999 call at 7.14am and the emergency services arrived 55 minutes later.

McEntee made efforts to revive Rowley at the scene and these continued with the emergency services but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 10am.

Read: Garda Harrison’s partner tells Tribunal she was ‘followed to Dunnes Stores by garda cars’ >

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Gordon Deegan

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