Paraglider rescued from Bear Mountain

SALISBURY —A search-and-rescue for a stranded paraglider on Bear Mountain Sunday, Nov. 8, went on into the early morning hours of Monday. Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service (SVAS), Lakeville Hose Company and Connecticut State Police were all involved in the initial effort. As the night progressed Sheffield Fire Department, Egremont Fire Department, Massachusetts State Police and a Connecticut police helicopter all joined in the search.

 The dispatch tones went off at about 7:40 p.m. for a search-and-rescue of a 50-year old man who was lost on Bear Mountain, according to Kaki Schafer-Reid, assistant chief of service of SVAS.

The family of the man called 911 from The White Hart, and reported that the tip of his paraglider had caught a tree branch and he came down somewhere in the Mount Washington area.

First reports indicated that he was lost but uninjured.

A crew of four EMTs with the ambulance service went up the mountain on an all-terrain vehicle and specially equipped Gator. Lakeville Hose Company volunteers staged their vehicles at a point on Mt. Riga Road.

Sheffield Fire Chief Richard Boardman got the call to join the search around 11:10 p.m. His crew went in from the Massachusetts side of Mt. Riga Road, about a mile from the state line. They took the trail in toward the point where the three states (including New York) meet.

The Egremont Fire Department joined in the search soon after.

Cell phone contact was made with the man, Boardman said. Using coordinates from his cell phone, the rescue squads were able to narrow the scope of the search area.

Having the coordinates “certainly makes our job a lot easier,� Boardman said.

Though the man was advised to stay in one place, apparently at some point he got too cold and decided to walk, in an effort to warm himself.

Massachusetts state police finally made physical contact with the  man at about 4:40 a.m.

At that point, he was about a half mile in from the road. Though he was able to walk out on his own, he was transported to Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington for observation.  

“When you drop into the woods, you get pounded a little bit, and he’d been in the woods all night so he was starting to wear out,� said Bill Turner, who is fire chief for Egremont. Mount Washington contracts with Egremont for fire services.

According to Turner, the man had apparently been “paragliding in the late afternoon, lost lift and got tangled up in Bear Mountain. He was a heavy hobbyist [someone who has a good skill set] and had equipment [including a flashlight] with him.�

Turner said it was with the help of the Connecticut State Police helicopter and its searchlight that rescuers finally located the man. Once they found him and he answered back with his flashlight, “they stayed right there and that was an impressive thing. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and usually they help locate, give us the coordinates and leave, but they were able to stay on him until the crew reached him.�

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