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Paraglider dies in Chief Cliff fall

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ELMO — A male paraglider was found dead at the bottom of Chief Cliff, a landmark near Elmo, at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 11. The ALERT helicopter spotted a red and white parachute at the bottom of Chief Cliff and relayed the coordinates to search and rescue.

Searchers from the Lake County Search and Rescue, the Flathead Tribal Police, Flathead Tribal Fish and Game, CAN-AM Search and Rescue, Chief Cliff Fire Department, the ALERT helicopter and area residents looked for the paraglider most of the night after Lake County Sheriff’s Office dispatch was notified at about midnight. 

The incident happened between 7 and 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 10 when the deceased and a friend left the rock quarry north east of Elmo and hiked to the top of Chief Cliff rock face to paraglide off. Friends on the grounds were watching the men.

One of the paragliders filled his chute and glided down to a large open field in the rock quarry. The deceased appeared to fill his chute, but then he pulled the chute up and appeared to pack it up and turned away from the cliff face. The watchers thought he was going to hike back down to the rock quarry, according to a press release issued by Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle.

The LCSAR used ATVs, trackers and searchers with handheld infrared units on the ground. The ALERT helicopter used night vision goggles to scan the area.

Recovery took several hours due to the steep and rocky terrain. The name of the victim has not been released pending notification of family.  

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