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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Athol man, 69, dies after paragliding accident on Steptoe Butte

FILE - A man died after crashing his hang-glider Saturday morning at Steptoe Butte. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A 69-year-old man died after crashing his paraglider Saturday morning on Steptoe Butte, according to the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency medical personnel from the Steptoe and Colfax fire departments were called to the popular Palouse landmark at about 9 a.m.

Don Croft, of Athol, who had been paragliding with a friend, was later flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, where he died.

The friend told sheriff’s deputies that Croft had crashed twice while attempting to take off from the butte, apparently because of gusty winds. After the second crash, Croft complained of dizziness.

Sheriff Brett Myers said the friend called 911 about an hour after the crash, as Croft’s symptoms worsened.

“He was conscious for quite some time before he started experiencing more dizziness, more pain,” Myers said.

Myers said friends and family members described Croft as an experienced paraglider. He said deputies arrived at the butte after Croft was flown away, and he didn’t know if Croft had been wearing a helmet when he crashed.

Myers said the Spokane County medical examiner’s office would determine the cause of Croft’s death.

Editor’s note: This story was changed on July 25, 2018. A previous version misidentified the type of glider Croft had been using, due to a source’s error.