HELENA, Mont. — A parasailer on Canyon Ferry Reservoir plummeted hundreds of feet to his death Friday after he apparently became tangled in his parachute, authorities said.
The victim, identified only as a 37-year-old man from Bozeman, was harnessed to a parachute and being towed by a speedboat at a height reported to be between 500 and 600 feet above the reservoir, said Broadwater County Sheriff Brenda Ludwig.
“The chute got tangled around him due to the weather or the downdraft,” Ludwig said. “He tried to deploy his secondary chute, but it didn’t deploy.”
The crash happened about noon near Hellgate Campground on the east side of the lake popular with recreational boaters and fishermen. Canyon Ferry Reservoir is about 15 miles east of Helena.
The man landed in the water and the pilot of the speedboat, who was a friend of the victim, pulled him out of the reservoir with the assistance of another paraglider, Ludwig said.
The victim was still in his harness when his body was recovered, she said.
The wind was blowing at 12 mph with gusts up to 17 mph at the time of the accident, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Blanke.
A cause of death has not been determined, and authorities were still investigating what happened. But the death appears to be accidental, Ludwig said.
The driver has been questioned and has been cooperative, Ludwig said. There was not anything apparently wrong with the speedboat, she said.
Authorities do not know at this point whether alcohol or drugs played a factor in the accident. The victim’s body has been taken to the state’s pathology laboratory in Missoula, where toxicology tests will be conducted, Ludwig said.
Police are withholding the victim’s name until his relatives can be notified.