Rescuers pluck paraglider pilot from trees after Tiger Mountain crash

July 14, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

UPDATED — 11:45 a.m. July 16, 2009

A paraglider pilot crashed into trees on Tiger Mountain Tuesday afternoon, ending his otherwise uneventful flight with broken ribs. Crews freed the trapped pilot from trees during a dramatic rescue as afternoon turned to evening.

Authorities identified the pilot as 47-year-old Spanaway resident Gene Beaver.*

A Navy Blackhawk helicopter based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island plucked the pilot from the woods while local crews worked on the ground.

Eastside Fire & Rescue Firefighter Ryan Hendricks said the Navy helicopter crew loaded the injured paraglider pilot into a basket to lift him from Tiger Mountain. EFR crews and King County Search and Rescue, a volunteer group, coordinated the rescue on the ground as the Navy chopper and news helicopters whirred overhead.

A Navy helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station retrieves a Navy corpsman from Tiger Mountain after they had airlifted out a paraglider that landed in the treetops June 14 and suffered broken ribs. — Photo by Greg Farrar

A Navy helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island retrieves a Navy corpsman from Tiger Mountain after the crew airlifted a paraglider that crashed into treetops July 14 and suffered broken ribs. — Photo by Greg Farrar

Beaver was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center.

Marc Chirico, owner of Seattle Paragliding on Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast, described Beaver as an experienced pilot who had completed about 150 paraglider flights.

“He flew mid-day, had a great time,” he said.

“He got himself into a bit too much adventure,” crashed into trees and broke ribs, Chirico said.

Poo Poo Point atop Tiger Mountain is a popular takeoff spot for paraglider pilots.

Chirico described the crash site on the wooded mountainside as about a quarter-mile from Chirico Trail.

*This report contains corrected information.

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