Man seriously injured after paraglider malfunctions, crashes at golf course

Posted at 5:46 PM, Aug 09, 2015

HOLLADAY, Utah — A man was flown to a hospital with serious injuries after the chute on his paraglider reportedly “folded in half” as he was flying over a golf course in Holladay Sunday, and the man and at least one other paraglider had flown from Draper before the crash occurred.

Lt. Lex Bell of the Unified Police Department said they initially received a call about a fallen paraglider, and they responded to the Old Mill Golf Course at 6080 Wasatch Boulevard.

“When we got here, we determined it was a 31-year-old male who was paragliding over the golf course and had a malfunction,” Bell said. “According to one of the friends who was paragliding with him, his chute actually folded in half and he fell straight out of the sky.”

Bell said witness reports vary on the height of the fall, but it is estimated at 25 to 60 feet based on those accounts.

“The injuries he sustained were serious,” Bell said. “LifeLight was called immediately, when they originally got to him he was unconscious.”

The man suffered hip and lower leg injuries, Bell said, adding that the distance of the fall makes it likely he also suffered back or even internal injuries. The identity of the man has not been released.

The man landed on a hill overlooking the tee area for the first hole of the course, and the helicopter landed nearby on the 12th-hole fairway. Bell said it wasn’t clear if there was any damage to the course as a result of the emergency response.

Police said the pair had taken off somewhere in Draper but didn’t specify exactly where, so it is likely they originated at the Flight Park State Recreation Area at the Point of the Mountain in Draper.

“So they’ve traveled quite a distance to this location, I’m not sure where their end destination was,” Bell said. “They happened to be going over the golf course, pretty low when this occurred, so you would think it would be close to here, or they would be forced to land somewhere close to here if they were that low.”

The distance from the flight park to the golf course in a straight line appears to be approximately 14 miles, though the distance the pair traveled would depend on their flight path and exact starting point. Bell said it wasn’t clear if they passed over any freeways, as the pair could have followed a path along the mountains.

“It is definitely not legal to fly over freeways under a certain amount of altitude,” Bell said. “And landing in private property or on private property is also illegal. I don’t know what their intent was as far as where they intended to land… crash landings obviously are a little bit different, and we’ll give good people some understanding when they suffer a malfunction, but never should they be flying over main roads.”

Bell said the pair may have violated some rules to end up at the location they did, but he said the incident is still being investigated.

He said this is the first time he can recall in his career hearing of a paraglider crashing on a golf course, and he said most crashes occur much closer to the flight park.

“Most of them stay close, and that’s where injuries and accidents occur,” Bell said.