Moab man seriously injured in paraglider crash

Rescuers prepare to make their way to an injured paraglider near the base of Castleton Tower, Grand County, Utah, Jan. 7, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Grand County EMS via Facebook, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Moab man who was seriously injured after crashing his paraglider near the base of Castleton Tower in Grand County late Monday afternoon, was successfully rescued hours later.

According to a Facebook post by Grand County Emergency Medical Services, the initial 911 call came in to dispatch shortly after 4 p.m.

Grand County EMS and Grand County Search and Rescue personnel responded to the scene and worked to reach the injured victim in difficult terrain and sub-freezing temperatures. Approximately 20 personnel were involved in the highly technical rescue operation, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said.

The injured man was identified as Ian Mitchard, 38, of Moab, according to a news release from Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the statement, Mitchard had hiked to a saddle in the area of the base of the tower and had taken off from that area using a paraglider that is used for “speed flying.”

Rescuers work to treat and stabilize an injured paraglider near the base of Castleton Tower, Grand County, Utah, Jan. 7, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Grand County EMS via Facebook, St. George News

“The glider turned back into the talus slope and collided with that slope,” the statement added, noting that the injured victim was found by rescuers on a steep talus slope southwest of the tower.

Castleton Tower, an iconic sandstone formation that is also commonly known as Castle Rock, is located approximately 22 miles east of Moab.

Mitchard was treated at the scene by Grand County EMS before being flown by Classic Air Medical helicopter to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado, in serious condition.

The rescue operation took approximately five hours, with the scene being cleared by 9 p.m., authorities said.

“Thank you to all the agencies involved and we wish the patient the best in recovery,” Grand County EMS said in its Facebook post.

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  • Brian January 8, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Speed flying is “flying as fast as possible, as close to the terrain as possible” (, and is very different than plain paragliding. To me speed flying is reckless (not wreckless!) and crazy. But I wish him a full, speedy recovery.

  • stevenxfiles January 8, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    20 rescue personnel and a helicopter? That sounds expensive! Who is paying for this? Hopefully not the tax payers. I mean if someone wants to go on a suicide mission that’s his choice but it’s also his responsibility.

  • Comment January 8, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    If you gotta crash like that… hope he made it look good at least. Except was anyone there to see it? Or film it? YOLO? I’d ask him a year from now if this sort of YOLO’ing was worth it…

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