Thursday, July 13, 2006

Flight of Fear

A paraglider who injured his back when crashing into a Saltburn cliff side today told how he was just inches away from being impaled on railings. His wife looked on helplessly as John Hoggarth smashed into the bank near Saltburn's cliff lift on June 26, suffering serious injuries. He had to be airlifted to hospital by an RAF rescue helicopter and is now recuperating after keyhole surgery. While he's expected to make a full recovery, he could have been even more seriously hurt had he been snared on the cliff lift railings, or tried to walk away from the scene. John, 53, of Aske Road, Redcar, today offered heartfelt thanks to onlookers and mercy teams who came to his aid. He said: "We usually fly from Huntcliff but this time, I took off from near The Marine at Saltburn. I'd been in the air for about five minutes when the wind died and I didn't get the lift I anticipated. It was bad judgement on my part and by the time I got turned, I was right over the cliff lift and just managed to miss the railings by inches." As well as the official emergency crews, John, a Corus analyst, thanked those who raised the alarm and tended to him at the scene before medics and helicopter arrived. He said: "Everyone was amazing - the lads from the surf shop who first helped me, the emergency teams and everyone at James Cook Hospital. I want to thank them all. I'd have tried to get up and walk off, probably doing significant damage, but the surf shop lads held me in place and stopped me moving. I probably owe the fact I'm up and walking now to them. I was very lucky." John is secretary of the North Yorkshire Sailwing Club and his wife Sarah is the club treasurer. They began paragliding together six years ago on a family holiday to France and have since flown hundreds of time, without major mishap. John, who is now back at home, confirmed he aims to take to the skies again as soon as he is fit.

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