Yampa Fire Protection District emergency responders and Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers wheel a man down from the Devil's Causeway area. Responders suspect the man, who was "speed flying," broke his legs as he attempted to land. Medical crews took the man to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Bret Edgerton/Courtesy

Yampa Fire Protection District emergency responders and Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers wheel a man down from the Devil's Causeway area. Responders suspect the man, who was "speed flying," broke his legs as he attempted to land. Medical crews took the man to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

"Speed flier" rescued near Devil's Causeway

Local man reportedly broke both legs in attempted landing

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— Emergency crews rescued a local man in his 20s from the Devil's Causeway area Wednesday night after he apparently broke his legs in a "speed flying" accident.

Speed flying is a faster form of paragliding. The man apparently launched off a nearby mountain or hillside.

Routt County Search and Rescue volunteer Dawn Alperti said the accident happened at about 2 p.m. Wednesday, when the flier crashed into rocks near the Devil's Causeway during an attempted landing in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area.

The man was about 1.5 miles into the 2-mile trail, near a field on the Yampa side of the causeway. The man was with a friend, who was not injured. A hiker found the pair about 15 minutes after the crash and hiked out of the Devil's Causeway area, then drove to Yampa to find cell phone service.

Yampa Fire Protection District emergency responders and Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers were paged out at about 5 p.m. Garfield County Search and Rescue crews also were on standby.

Alperti said Yampa Fire Protection District crews arrived at the trailhead at about 6 p.m. and reached the injured man at about 7 p.m. Twelve Search and Rescue volunteers were about 30 minutes behind and carried the injured man out of the area, loading him into the ambulance at about 10:30 p.m. Medical crews transported the man to Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Kelly Davis, owner of Colorado Paragliding in Golden, said speed flying is not a common form of paragliding, but he said that he knows about a couple of businesses in Utah that sell the gear. He said it's an activity generally reserved for advanced jumpers, and although he regularly takes clients on commercial paragliding courses, he would not want to take anyone speed flying.

"You're flying much faster than a paraglider," he said. "And you can get in more trouble."

Kelly said the main difference is that the parachute used in speed flying is smaller than those used for paragliding or jumping out of airplanes and is designed to propel the rider forward.

"It's a little, speedy parachute with more of a glide than what a parachute would have out of a plane," he said.

During the winter, speed fliers can use skis to take off and land and use the lift created by the parachutes to skim over rough or rocky terrain during a mountain descent.

During the summer, the gliders typically jump off a high structure. Alperti was unclear Thursday about where the man jumped.

-To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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