Paraglider injured in crash near Woodrat Mountain

A 45-year-old paraglider pilot lost control of his chute just after takeoff Thursday, resulting in a fall of around 75 feet that put him at the bottom of a cliff on Woodrat Mountain in the Applegate.

Details about the man's injuries weren't released, but Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9 officials said they could have been a lot worse.

"It's not as bad as some others we've had," said Brett Fillis, District No. 9 fire chief. "We have a few of these a year."

The man's name was not immediately available. Fillis said he is from out of town, but the chief didn't know where.

Fire officials reported Applegate Fire's Technical Rescue team headed to the top of Woodrat Mountain at 6:30 p.m. for a rope rescue, following a 911 call about a fall. The paraglider apparently lost control of his chute just after takeoff for unknown reasons. Fillis said takeoff is usually the most dangerous part of a flight.

"Usually once they're up and airborne it's not an issue," he said.

The man fell through trees and rocks and crashed at the bottom of the cliff. The initial 911 call reported the man had fallen unconscious, but he had awakened by the time crews arrived. Emergency crews packed the man into a rescue stretcher — also called a Stokes litter — and used a technical rope system to haul him up the mountain to the top. From there, a Mercy Flights helicopter transported him to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. No update on his condition was available today, but Fillis said the man was talking and alert, and that he seemed "pretty stable."

"Which doesn't mean you're not sore in a whole bunch of spots," he said.

Woodrat Mountain is a well-known jump site for paragliders and other extreme sports enthusiasts gearing up for the annual Rat Race, a paragliding competition that boasts hundreds of entries.

"The last few days including today and tomorrow is kind of their practice time," Fillis said.

— Ryan Pfeil


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