After slamming into a bluff near the Torrey Pines Gliderport, an Inman, South Carolina, woman died Saturday, May 12. The deceased, Pamela Hargett, 52, had trained in paragliding in San Diego.
After Hargett hit the cliff about 200 feet above Black’s Beach, she became suspended, upside down against a sheer vertical cliff, but was secure in her harness. The canopy of the glider had caught in some bushes.
A helicopter crew was training in East County about 12:15 p.m., when the call came in about the accident. The crew consisted of crew chief, Tom Stephenson; pilot Chris Hartnell; and medic Scott Pearson. Besides the crew in the helicopter, 19 firefighters and lifeguards were at the rescue scene, said lifeguard Lt. John Everett.
By the time the helicopter arrived, lifeguards already had hiked down to a flat spot, which was about 50 feet where Hargett was suspended upside down. A lifeguard who rappelled down to her found she had a pulse, according to Stephenson.
The problem was trying to find a way to pull severely injured woman up the sheer wall of rock. The helicopter couldn’t get too close because of the danger of wind from the helicopter’s rotors catching the paraglider’s wing and hurling it down to the beach. And a small rock outcropping kept the lifeguards from hoisting her up the face of the bluff.
Hargett was freed from her parasail when a lifeguard who was suspended on ropes strapped Hargett to himself and cut away the lines leading to the sail. She still had a pulse. The helicopter, hovering about 200 feet above, lowered the medic. However, because the space was too small, he could not help attach her to a backboard or help her.
The rescue team then decided to secure Hargett to the medic and raise the two of them to a ledge above them where he could perform CPR. By this time, 25 minutes after the helicopter team first got to Hargett, she had died from injuries, according to Stephenson. The helicopter flew her body to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.
Hargett was an experienced paraglider, according to her instructor Bill Armstrong. She had reached the third level of four levels of certification. She and her fiancé came to the paraglider spot almost every other month and stayed in Leucadia.
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