Paraglider dies after falling into ocean in Pacifica

PACIFICA, Calif. (KGO) -- A paraglider died after being pulled from the ocean off of Pacifica Saturday morning.

The man had been riding air currents along the coast when he fell into the ocean just off Esplanade Avenue.

From the cliffs overlooking the ocean below, fellow paragliders desperately yelled for the man in the water to get out of his parachute harness.

He had been riding the air currents along the beach until he lost lift and dropped into the rough surf. "For a while the surf was so high we couldn't even get to him," paraglider Erik Grow said.

The beach access trail that has been under repair for the last few weeks complicated their effort to even reach him. The concrete slab crews had been pouring had massive cracks in it from the pounding surf, making it unsafe to use.

Jeff Essex lives nearby and shot video of the whole incident. He says the currents dragged the man north to a narrow beach, so bystanders went down the bluffs to try to pull him out. "They tried six or seven times to grab him and the parachute, but the current just kept snatching him right out of their hands," Essex said.

"When we were able to get to him he was all wrapped up in his lines and his wing, which weighed a ton and we couldn't even budge him really," Grow said.

Eventually, the men were able cut him free from the parachute wing and emergency crews arrived.

However North County Fire Authority officials said he did not survive and was pronounced dead on scene.

The surf remained dangerously rough all day on Saturday and Beach Boulevard in Pacifica has been closed to traffic.

Fire officials said the incident is under investigation by law enforcement and the San Mateo County coroner's office.

Bay City News contributed to this story.
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