A French pilot has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after the plane he was flying struck and decapitated a wingsuit skydiver over southern France in 2018.
The pilot, only identified as 64-year-old Alain C, was found guilty on Tuesday following a trial and given a suspended sentence by Montauban criminal court, according to reports. The pilot was also banned from flying for a year.
The guilty decision stems from a July 2018 incident when wingsuit skydiver Nicholas Galy, 40, was killed shortly after jumping out of a single-engine Pilatus airplane being piloted by Alain C. A wingsuit skydiver wears a specialized webbed-sleeved jumpsuit with membranes between the arms, body and legs, which allows a diver to glide flight in the air.
Galy was one of a pair of wingsuit skydivers who jumped from about 14,000 feet from the plane over the town of Bouloc-en-Quercy, located in the Occitanie region in southern France.
However, disaster struck about 20 seconds after the pair jumped from the aircraft.
Alain C descended the plane rapidly, catching up with the wingsuit skydivers as they glided across the sky, The Times of London previously reported.
As the plane caught up with the skydivers, the left wing struck Galy, decapitating his head, according to the publication.
Galy’s body landed in a field after his emergency parachute opened.
During the trial, Alain argued he did not do anything wrong, adding that Galy “did not follow the expected course and should never have been on that course.”
The pilot later said he thought Galy was farther south when he was in fact parallel to the plane.
“I think my flight path made sense,” Alain said. “This has been the tragedy of my life, but I am not at fault.”
It was also revealed during the trial that the pilot did not brief the skydivers about the jump and acknowledged he lost track of the wingsuit duo, assuming he was clear of them. He noted that wingsuit jumpers do not descend much and can be in conflict with the plane.
Testimony also showed Alain was operating the plane on an invalid license after violating restrictions in place from a medical condition.
The Midi-Pyrénées Skydiving School Association, which employed the pilot, was fined €20,000 ($21,800), half of which was suspended.
Since the incident, security measures have been strengthened and briefings have become obligatory, according to Isabelle Deschamps, the president of the school.
Fox News’ Greg Wehner contributed to this report.