78yo Brit Paraglider Out Of Hosp After Mountain Crash

CENPublished: March 28, 2018
Published: March 28, 2018

A 78-year-old British paraglider injured by crashing into a tree on a mountain has been released from hospital.

Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, David Willis said it was nothing too dramatic as "the tree broke my fall" and as a result he had nothing worse than "a few cracked ribs and bruises."

He was flying at an altitude of about 5,000 feet (1,524 metres) when he crashed on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the United Arab Emirates, in the north-eastern emirate of Ras al-Khaimah.

The mishap has been blamed on strong winds which made Mr Willis lose control of his paraglider, veer off course and crash into the tree.

He said: "I set a safe site for landing on one of the mountainous slopes, but a strong wind or whirlwind suddenly turned my course and pushed me down so that I lost balance, and luckily fell on to a tree there."

Fortunately for Mr Willis, an expert paraglider with 45 years of experience, he was seen by some nearby workmen, who rescued him.

Work site supervisor Mohammed Al Yaqoubi said the incident took place in an area known as Wadi Lahasa.

He said: "The elderly Briton was lucky enough to settle on a samar tree and to be seen by a number of Pakistani labourers at a mountainous site, who rushed for help and released him from the top of the tree.

"This was about 200 metres (219 yards) from the mountain road to the peak, the highest in the country at around 1,900 metres (2,077 yards) above sea level."

The pilot, a flying instructor who lives in the UAE resort city of Dubai, was taken by ambulance to the Saqr Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah.

Hospital director Mohammad Rashid Bin Arshid said: "Tests and radiology reports revealed that he had fractures in three ribs and in one lumbar vertebra, in addition to scratches on the arms and a slight bruise in a lung."

Jebel Jais is the highest point of the United Arab Emirates, at 1,934 metres (6,345 feet) above sea level. The world's longest zip line opened on the mountain in February.

Willis said his glider had survived better, saying: "We packed it up and it seemed okay."

And he also said he was planning on getting back in the air soon, saying: "It was just one of those days."

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