Paraglider dies after crashing into Frye Mesa

Photo Courtesy Facebook: David Wolfe, shown here paragliding in a previous session, died July 3 after crashing into the side of Frye Mesa.

By Jon Johnson

FRYE MESA – A paraglider died July 3 after suffering a fatal crash along the side of Frye Mesa in the Pinaleño Mountain Range. 

David Ronald Wolfe, of Tonasket, Washington was pronounced deceased at the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center after being rescued from the Frye Mesa area. 

Frye Mesa is part of the Coronado National Forest with the Frye Mesa Reservoir roughly 10 miles southeast of Thatcher off W. Frye Mesa Road. The area is utilized for camping, hiking, and fishing and is part of the Safford Ranger District.  

Wolfe’s son-in-law was filming the paragliding session when the crash occurred. The man rushed to Wolfe’s side and tended to him as he called and waited for emergency services. 

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: This file photo shows the canyons and waterfalls in the Frye Mesa area.

Graham County deputies were dispatched at about 4:36 p.m. and were the first to arrive. The deputies hiked roughly 100 to 150 yards down to the victim and assisted him until more help arrived. 

Wolfe had severe trauma, including broken bones to his leg and arm, a laceration to his eye, and his helmet was dislodged and had a large dent. 

While he was in and out of consciousness during the rescue, deputies helped put him in a more comfortable position to await medical professionals. 

The Graham County Search and Rescue Team arrived and put Wolfe on a backboard. They then placed him in a cage and carried him down the Mesa to be loaded into a helicopter.

While being attended to, Wolfe told the deputy he was from Washington and was visiting family in the area. He said he had previously gone to a class to learn how to paraglide and had performed successful jumps before his attempt that day.  

The air emergency helicopter couldn’t land in the landing zone due to a brownout, so paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance transported Wolfe by ground ambulance to MGRMC, where he was pronounced deceased at 8:28 p.m.