Woman dies after falling from tandem hang glider


Paragliders in flight on the final day of the competition. (Seth Kugel/GlobalPost)


Seth Kugel

A young Canadian woman died Saturday in British Columbia after falling "hundreds of feet" shortly after taking her first tandem hang-gliding flight, the Vancouver Province reported.

She became detached somehow from the craft, a spokesman for the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada said.

"Within 30 seconds of takeoff, the pilot realized something was wrong," Jason Warner told the Province. "I don't think she would have known what was happening. (The pilot) tried everything."

Police and searchers combed a heavily treed area in the Fraser Valley region for about seven hours, CBC News reported.

The pilot had about 10 years of experience, and local police said this is the first such incident they can remember happening in the area.

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"This is a sport that is very self-governed, this is an area that they commonly use and, unfortunately, accidents occur," RCMP Sgt. Mark Pelz told CBC, "and that's hopefully what this is."

The site of the crash is about two hours east of Vancouver near Agassiz, B.C.

A local hotel owner said the woman's boyfriend was filming her from the ground when she grabbed the pilot's leg in an attempt to save herself, the Vancouver Sun said.

The pilot apparently tried to wrap he legs around her.

"It's really sad," Dehlia Simper told the Sun.

Police didn't release details of the woman's age or hometown, but reports say she was in her 20s and originally from Mexico.

The boyfriend had purchased the flight as an anniversary gift.

Emergency services were counseling both the pilot and boyfriend, the Province said.

The pilot landed safely, but couldn't lead searchers to the body.

Another paraglider pilot said he found a shoe earlier in the search, and police used that as a reference point to find the woman's body; the shoe belonged to the pilot.

"Until the police and the pilot do an investigation on the equipment, we don't really understand how it can happen," Warner told CBC. 

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