Injured paraponter rescued from remote alpine range

A Westpac rescue helicopter was unable to land near the injured man.
A Westpac rescue helicopter was unable to land near the injured man.

A paraponter spent about four hours perched precariously on a ridge with suspected spinal injuries after crashing in a remote Canterbury alpine range this afternoon.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot Stuart Farquhar said the man had been flying over steep terrain around the Mt Cheeseman Ski Area when a gust of wind caused part of his parachute to collapse. He crashed into a steep hillside covered in loose shingle and rock.

When the helicopter arrived some of the man's colleagues were with him but, after a paramedic assessed he may have spinal injuries, it was decided it was too risky to winch him onto the chopper without properly securing him on a stretcher first.

"He had moderate facial injuries but the biggest concern was keeping his spine immobilised, which was tricky given where he was," Mr Farquhar said.

To do this, the helicopter crew picked up an alpine cliff rescue team from Christchurch and flew them to the scene.

They inserted anchors into the unstable ground and secured the man to a stretcher allowing the helicopter crew to winch him on board.

He was taken to Christchurch Hospital, about four hours after the crash.

Mr Farquhar said the man was an experienced paraponter.

- APNZ

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