Victims Trapped In Gondola for 18 Hours
A BAVARIAN PARGLIDER PILOT FAILED to look before he leaped Friday afternoon. In some sort of publicity jump he had a tandem partner, a radio reporter who was going along for the ride with her recording equipment.
But instead of flying parallel to the cables of a funicular as the law requires, the pilot traveled across the cables and his flying machine got hopelessly entangled in them. This collision brought the traveling cable car to a halt with no chance of restarting with the glider still on the lines at 1:15 pm.
The accident stranded three groups of tourists who were traveling up and down to view the scenery and the lookout over the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. Twenty people were stranded on a car approx. 280-feet above the ground, another group was stuck in a car farther down the line and about 80 feet aboveground, and 130 visitors were left in the cable car station at the top of the system.
The two paragliders were able to lower themselves to the higher car and got inside, both of them injured. Around 3 pm a police rescue helicopter was able to retrieve the two fliers via rescue harness and winch, but high winds grew and made flying too dangerous to immediately remove the other 20 passengers. With a bleak weather forecast making the rescue attempt unlikely for the remainder of the day, a mountain rescue ranger was lowered into the car with blankets and food to provide comfort for the stranded tourists. The rescuer stayed in the car with them overnight to keep them assured and calm and in radio contact.
The lower car was not only closer to the ground, but the terrain under it was flatter and had less turbulence in the air. A helicopter mountain rescue team was able to successfully lower the nearly 30 people from that car before nightfall.
Another helicopter was able to safely remove the people stranded on the top station.
At 6 am Saturday morning the police helicopter "Edelweiss 7" began its mission and within two hours all 20 people plus the rescue team member were safely removed from the stranded car.
The first video below was issued by the police department and includes good graphics illustrating the geographic features of the rescue location:
The spectacular rescue mission drew about 250 members of the Mountain Rescue Service, the Bavarian Red Cross (BRK), the Agency for Technical Relief (THW), the Armed Forces, the Fire Department and the police.
The two paragliders that caused the incident were treated for minor injuries and are facing charges for negligent injury and dangerous interference with the cable car.
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