There’s no doubt that paragliding is a fun activity, despite the obvious dangers involved. However, one Californian paraglider came face to face with death when he careened into power lines. The paraglider was trapped on the Northern Californian power lines for three hours before the power company and rescuers came to his aid. The video of the paraglider being rescued has since gone viral on various social media platforms.
In a statement released by the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, the paraglider got himself entangled with the powerlines located close to the Yuba County Airport in Olivehurst as he was approaching to land. These events happened on the evening of the 19th of February. The sheriff’s department reads in part, “A single para-glide pilot became entangled in power lines upon his approach to land.”
The paraglider, who wasn’t immediately identified, was on a training exercise and attempted to land at the Yuba County airport before the debacle. Speaking to KTXL, Jimmy Comstock a resident living nearby said he spotted two paragliders in the sky before they separated and one careened straight into the power line.
He says, “I seen two of them coming. One went that way and the others come over the trees, dipped down in the road then tried to get out of the road and then hit the wires.” Rebekah Wright, a local business owner said that the crash was harrowing. She said, "One of my employees was yelling, 'Oh my gosh, a guy just hit.'"
First responders arrived at 5 pm to find the paraglide pilot facing down, with the power lines offering him the only support. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a Californian utility company had to cut power supply to the Olivehurst area for a few hours. This was to enable the rescuers to safely bring the man down without the risk of getting electrocuted.
The rescue mission set off immediately once the power was cut. Officials say the man remained conscious and alert as rescuers worked around the clock to safely bring him down. However, a local business owner reported to KTXL that the stuck paraglider “kept blacking out”. At 8:15 pm the man was finally disentangled from the power lines.
In the rescue video, the man is seen sitting up and drinking a bottle of water while being wheeled to an ambulance. There were no major injuries reported from the accident. However, paramedics treated him on-site before taking him to hospital for further evaluation.
The US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association website says that paragliding is as safe as any other action sport such as skiing and climbing. The safety depends on the person's preparedness and level of experience. However, the group acknowledges losing seven of its members in 2017 in paragliding related accidents. After the successful rescue, the aircraft was removed and the power lines repaired. The unnamed paraglider was lucky to escape with his life after such a dangerous accident.