Paraglider seriously injured in crash near Milpitas

(KTVU) A paragliding accident at a South Bay park put a 27-year old woman in the hospital with serious injuries. It happened shortly after 1:00 p.m. Sunday at Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas.

"This is our designated hang glider site," said Santa Clara County Park Ranger Supervisor, Aniko Millan. "People come from all over to enjoy hangliding."

Millan said conditions should have been ideal Sunday afternoon when the paraglider launched, but something went wrong. "And for whatever reason, (she) banked hard right and slammed back into the hillside," Millan explained. "Witnesses say she hit the mountain first with her face, so it could have been far worse, but no loss of consciousness, so very lucky."

"We're willing to accept the risk because of how magical it is," said Robert Booth, President of Wings of Ragallo, the local hang gliding club. "But it's not a common occurrence."

Booth said he witnessed the very end of the accident. "The winds switched and Mother Nature threw a curveball," he said. "The paraglider basically popped up into the sky so the pilot was launched prematurely and not prepared for the situation."

Booth, who pilots hang gliders, said the paraglider was not a beginner, and was working on her third level of proficiency. He said the sports have inherent risks, but the rewards are greater. "I used to stare at the sky, and stare at birds circling around, and wonder what it would be like, and wish that in my next life that I'd be a bird," Booth said smiling. "I am a bird in this life now."

The crash ended paragliding and hang gliding activities at Ed Levin County Park for the day. The unidentified paraglider was airlifted to Stanford Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries, which include fractures to her ankles and cuts to her face.