New Zealander Charlotte O’Leary dies while paragliding in France

An experienced paraglider died in a freak accident while on vacation in southeastern France.

A New Zealander has died in a paragliding accident in France.

Experienced paraglider Charlotte O’Leary was on vacation in Europe with her brother when the fatal accident happened last Thursday in Saint-Andre-les-Alpes, one of the most acclaimed paragliding sites in the world.

It is understood that his body is being repatriated to New Zealand.

“We are aware of the death of a New Zealand citizen following a paragliding accident in France and are providing assistance to the family,” a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said. ) at the Herald.

When approached by the Herald, her family this week declined to comment.

O’Leary, who studied medicine at the University of Otago and worked at Hauora Tairāwhiti, formerly Tairawhiti District Health, from 2017-19, lived in Queenstown.

She had planned to return to New Zealand for the winter ski season at Coronet Peak.

NZ SKI managing director Paul Anderson said O’Leary was an experienced emergency doctor returning for his second season with the mountain medical rescue team.

“People are devastated,” Anderson said.

“To lose someone under these circumstances is very tragic and she was a truly talented and valuable member of the medical team.

“Our sympathies go out to the family – it’s tragic.”

In 2015, another experienced New Zealand paraglider, Aaron Cooke, 38, died in a horror crash while attempting a high-altitude launch in the French Alps.

Cooke dived to his death taking off from the Argentière glacier on the Mont Blanc massif.

It was heard that his foot hit an ice pinnacle as he tried to pass between two hanging glaciers and he fell dead 30m below.

A paragliding partner who witnessed the tragedy immediately alerted the Chamonix emergency services. Cooke was pronounced dead by rescuers when they arrived at the site.

This story originally appeared in the NZ Herald and has been reproduced with permission.

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