Three hurt in unrelated paragliding, base-jumping accidents
August 20, 2008
RIFLE, Colo. ” A paraglider, his son and an unrelated base-jumper were airlifted from Garfield County to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction Sunday.
Garfield County Community Relations Deputy Tanny McGinnis said a 40-year-old paraglider and his 10-year-old son were airlifted after a tandem paragliding flight in the morning near the top of the JQS Trail, northwest of Rifle.
Pine Pienaar, owner of Adventure Paragliding, said the man was a “fairly experienced” pilot who had paraglided for about six years. He said the man was a visiting pilot from Breckenridge, and the flight had no connection to Adventure Paragliding.
A hospital spokeswoman said she could not get consent from patients to release information and couldn’t give a directory listing without the exact spelling of the name, due to patient confidentiality laws.
Pienaar emphasized that paragliding is a very safe sport with proper guidance and instruction. He said he’s flown more than 5,000 times “without so much as even a scraped ankle,” and he’s had no accidents in the six years he’s operated the paragliding school.
Rifle Fire Protection District Lt. Rob Jones said the call about a paraglider who crashed into trees came in at 9:38 a.m. He said the agency did a technical rescue involving lowering the father with ropes down to a road from a steep slope.
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The father and son were driven about a half-mile to the top of the JQS trail to where a helicopter waited. Jones said he couldn’t discuss the conditions of the father and son or release their identities because he was unsure if family members had been notified.
About two hours later, around 11:45 a.m., authorities responded to a woman who was injured during a 2,500-foot base-jump. They were called to the bottom of the Anvil Points that extend from the Roan Plateau west of Rifle, said Rifle Fire Protection District Chief David Blair. He said he also couldn’t discuss details of the woman’s identity or her condition.
But he added, “The chute opened and everything was fine other than it was a hard landing.”
McGinnis said the woman was in her 30s. Further information was unavailable.