A male paraglider died Monday in the Rattlesnake Canyon area after becoming detached from the tandem paraglider he was flying with his daughter.
The man fell approximately 1,000 feet while his daughter stayed in the paraglider and crash-landed in a separate location, surviving with minor injuries. Geology professor Sabina Thomas was leading a field work session with her physical geology class and witnessed the fall. She looked for the victim before paramedics and search and rescue arrived.
Second-year geology major Briana Bui was a member of the field trip and said the group was doing fieldwork in the mountains when they saw the man fall.
“In the middle of our lab, a paraglider fell out of the sky,” Bui said. “It was literally so close that you could hear the whooshing noise as he fell.”
Bui said the group first panicked, then immediately called 911 and provided officers with the coordinates of their location.
“We assembled a search crew,” Bui said. “He was still alive after he fell and was screaming in pain, so we tried to track him by following the sounds of his screams, but eventually he stopped screaming so we didn’t have anything to go off of … so we had to give up.”
According to Bui, the group had to stop their search when they began descending the canyon.
“We were going down into the canyon, and that’s when we stopped hearing anything at all,” Bui said. “The TAs didn’t want us to go any farther for our safety because it was pretty steep.”
Bui said it took about an hour for paramedics and search and rescue to arrive and meet with the field trip.
“They took over from there, and the professional search and rescue were the people who found him,” Bui said.