A 26-year-old man who recently died in a paragliding accident in Colorado has been identified as a former Navy Seal. According to a report, the paraglider who died in the Breckenridge area has been identified as Zacharia Bolster of Arvada, Colorado.
According to the coroner’s office, Bolster was a former Seal in the US Navy. Last Saturday, the Navy Seal veteran died in a tragic accident after launching himself from the top of a peak with plans to land on the Copper Mountain side of the Tenmile Range in Colorado.
Navy Seal dies during paragliding tragedy
This spot would have put him in the Sky Chutes area, a popular set of chutes used by local backcountry skiers. The ridge is also a popular local spot for launching paraglides, with the incline of these chutes making the spot ideal for speed gliding.
Before the tragedy, the former Navy Seal had launched with his speed wing, unlike his friend, who used a paragliding attachment. Speed flying or speed gliding, the high-flying sport for which a speed wing is used, is similar to paragliding but involves much more intense dives.
Those who opt for a paragliding wing are typically focused on gaining lift as warm air rises. They also try to maintain flight for extended periods.
At the time, the Navy Seal was using a speed wing, meaning his planned flight would likely be much shorter. However, this raised concern when his friend using the paragliding attachment, which allowed for a slower descent, landed first.
Once he landed, he immediately called his friend but got no response. He then called emergency officials to get help.
Later, officials located the Navy Seal during a fly-over. Sadly, they found that he had passed away, with his speed wing tangled in a nearby tree top.
Currently, it’s still unknown what specifically caused the accident to occur. However, according to paragliding experts, speed gliding can mean flying close to hazards at a high rate of speed.
Paragliding: How safe is it?
According to reports, paragliding is as safe as driving. About one out of every 10,000 Americans die in a car accident each year. In Germany, where paragliding is common, about three people are killed per year out of 33,000 pilots.
That comes out to 1 out of 11,000 pilots, slightly lower than the driving fatality rate. On the contrary, statistics reveal that paragliding is much safer than activities such as motorcycling or horseback riding.
When it comes to comparing paragliding to skydiving, paragliding is slightly more dangerous than skydiving. Last year, 18 paragliding fatalities were recorded out of 242,355 paragliding flights. On the contrary, three million skydiving jumps taken yearly result in 13 deaths.