Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paraglider crash leads to all-night rescue

Bellevue man released Monday from Boise hospital

Express Staff Writer

A 21-year-old Bellevue man who crashed a paraglider Saturday evening on Lookout Mountain south of Bellevue was released from a Boise hospital Monday afternoon after being flown there by emergency helicopter following an all-night rescue by emergency responders.
    Jordan Niedrich suffered a broken leg and cuts in the accident that occurred at about 8:30 p.m. In a rescue effort led by Wood River Fire & Rescue, with the assistance of the Ketchum and Sun Valley fire departments, Niedrich was lowered from the mountain by ropes to a waiting emergency helicopter that flew him to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
    Wood River Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Bart Lassman said the rescue wasn’t accomplished until about 5:30 a.m. Sunday.
    “It was dangerous. It was man intensive. He was in a difficult spot,” Lassman said. “He was about 1,900 feet above the valley floor so he was a little bit less than a third of the way down.”
    Blaine County Sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Carpita said the accident is under investigation.
    “Right now we’re doing some follow-up on it just to see what happened,” Carpita said.
    KTVB in Boise reported Tuesday that Niedrich was with a group of people who are “speed flyers,” paragliders who take off from a mountain then stay close to the surface for a fast descent.
    Lassman said he’s concerned about the safety of the pilots as well as about the safety of emergency responders who have to rescue them.
    “I’m concerned about the position this group puts us in,” he said. “It’s the third accident we’ve had down here with this same group.”
    Lassman said an emergency crew wasn’t able to reach Niedrich until about 10 p.m. Saturday because of the steep terrain.
    He said Niedrich had “a possible pelvis injury, an obvious broken femur and a head injury.”
    “So he wasn’t in good condition,” he said. “We were able to stabilize him at the scene.”
    Lassman said he considered using an Army National Guard helicopter to hover above and hoist Niedrich aboard, but that kind of assistance was at least six hours away.
    “The decision was made to belay him down using ropes from about 2,000 feet down the hill to the helicopter,” he said.
    Lassman said the rescue had to be accomplished in relays, with emergency responders digging into the hillside to secure the ropes for lowering the victim.
    “I can’t say enough about how well they did, considering how dangerous it was,” he said.

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