Paraglider dies after crashing into roof of LDS chapel in Draper

Posted at 11:01 AM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-23 00:45:19-04

DRAPER, Utah -- Authorities have identified a paramotorist who died after crashing into the roof of a church in Draper as Jim H. Petersen.

The fatal accident occurred at about 8:55 a.m. Sunday during services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 272 E. Traverse Point.

"We have heard reports that there might have been a collapse of the chute," said Sergeant Chad Carpenter with Draper Police. "We don't have that confirmed yet though."

"Witnesses say he was out of control and spiraling rapidly," said Steven Howlett, one of Petersen's friends who was flying alongside him Sunday morning.

Howlett said the two of them took off from the South side of the Point of the Mountain around 7:30 a.m., but he says he landed before Petersen did.

"He had more gas than I did," Howlett said. "So he kept going."

Howlett later learned that his friend crashed through the roof of the LDS church.

While at least dozens of people were in the building, no other injuries beyond the fatality were reported. Petersen, 57, is from Bluffdale. Petersen was using a paramotor, which is a form of powered paraglider.

The paramotor broke at least partially through the roof of the church.

Friends of Petersen tell FOX 13's Jeff McAdam through Facebook that Petersen was a loving man who would do anything for his family. Based off of YouTube videos and Facebook photos, it also appears he was a very experienced pilot.

Howlett believes that Petersen was already unconscious upon impact.

"All those G-forces hitting him," he paused. "He probably blacked out from all the spinning."