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Swiss paraglider's grisly vineyard death probed

Malcolm Curtis · 20 Mar 2013, 22:47

Published: 20 Mar 2013 22:47 GMT+01:00

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The businessman from Bex, who was still learning the sport, was impaled on metal stakes in a vineyard in the village of Ollon on Tuesday afternoon, according to police and media reports.

The victim died on the spot despite the efforts of emergency first aid workers who rapidly arrived on the scene, Vaud cantonal police said in a news release.

The paraglider flew from area above the Villars-sur-Ollon ski resort in good weather conditions and would normally have landed in a spot used by paragliders near Ollon, Le Matin reported on Wednesday.

It’s not clear why he ended up in the vineyard.

“It would seem that the paraglider touched (electric) cables after which he impaled himself on the vineyard stakes,” Jean-Luc Reymond, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, told Le Matin.

The newspaper cited other sources who said that he ended up in an “uncontrolled spin” 200 metres above ground.

Questions have been raised about why an emergency parachute, usually packed with the main sail for paragliding, did not deploy.

In a report Le Matin said the victim, who owned masonry and real estate businesses in Bex, was a well-known personality in the area known for enjoying mountain sports.

However, he remained a student paraglider who had not yet completed the 60 jumps needed to obtain a certificate, according to the report.

The newspaper said he was taking training in a school run by Christophe Smith, father of Fanny Smith, the world champion ski cross athlete.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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