LA GRANDE — A 25-year-old Summerville man was injured in a late-afternoon paragliding accident Monday, June 20, on a steep hillside close to a half mile north of the west Interstate 84 La Grande exit.
The accident was reported at about 3:45 p.m., according to Union County Emergency Manager Nick Vora.
Union County Sheriff Cody Bowen arrived at the accident site first and then directed first responder traffic to it, Vora said.
Rescuers had to hike up a steep hillside to reach the injured man. First responders packed the patient into a wheeled Stokes basket and he was wheeled down the hill to a waiting Life Flight helicopter, which had landed at a gravel pit about 500 yards from the base of the slope. The man was then flown to a trauma center in Richland, Washington, with potentially life-threatening injuries at about 5 p.m., Vora said.
The patient, who was alone, was located after he called 911 with his cellphone. The Union County Dispatch Center was able to find him by using Global Positioning System equipment, which determines a cellphone’s coordinates.
The city of La Grande Fire Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, Union County Search and Rescue, La Grande Rural Fire Department, Oregon State Police and Life Flight Network all responded to the accident.
Vora said teamwork among the first responders allowed them to get the injured man off the hillside and to the trauma center quickly.
“This really exemplifies how well the people from all these agencies work well together as a team,” he said.