INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — A regional helicopter crew and a longtime volunteer rescued an injured paraglider who crashed Saturday evening in the mountains east of Lake Tahoe, officials said.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office received a cellphone call from the male paraglider at about 6:30 p.m., saying he had gone down in the area of Herlon Peak, above Sand Harbor and near Marlette Lake.
Roughly 20 WCSO Search and Rescue Team volunteers responded, along with units from the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, according to WCSO.
Volunteers headed toward the location on foot, but due to the location and condition of the victim, the department’s RAVEN helicopter was requested.
The RAVEN crew and Andy Monroe, a Search and Rescue HASTY team volunteer, responded and made cellphone contact with the victim, locating him between two sharp peaks at the 8,000-foot level.
Monroe was at Dollar Point near Tahoe City celebrating the holiday weekend with his family when he got the call.
He quickly drove to the Ponderosa Ranch parking area in Incline Village, got into his gear and made sure his rescue basket — which he keeps in his vehicle at all times in case of emergency — was ready before RAVEN swooped him up.
“Luckily, we had his cellphone number … we called him to get his exact location and kept asking if he could hear the helicopter getting louder or quieter,” Monroe said Tuesday. “Luckily he could move around a bit, could use his arms and could help me get him into basket.”
Monroe said the whole ordeal took roughly 25 minutes.
RAVEN brought the victim to the Ponderosa parking area for transfer to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno via Careflight. An update on the paraglider’s condition was not immediately known. His name also has not been released by WCSO.
“Our volunteers and staff continually prepare by putting in thousands of hours of training every year for just this type of incident,” WCSO Assistant Sheriff Darin Balaam said in a statement. “Training we’d prefer never having to use, but we know will be critical to saving lives when the call comes and our response is needed.”
Monroe, 48, was born and raised in Reno. His operates a family business managing a few apartment complexes in Reno, and he’s been a Search and Rescue volunteer with WCSO for more than 20 years.
While RAVEN and Search and Rescue handle a half dozen or so rescues like this per year, Monroe said Saturday’s mission was “a little more unusual” because “it was so far away from any roads or trails ... and the steepness made it really hard to walk in there.”
When asked why he volunteers to help save lives, he said he “wants to give back to my community” — and he gladly does it for free.
“It would take some of the fun out of it if I got paid for it,” he said. “If you get pad, then it’s a job. If you volunteer, it’s a passion.”
Visit washoesar.org to learn more about Washoe County Search and Rescue.