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Deceased paraglider identified

A paraglider who died on Thanksgiving Day has been identified as 56-year-old Marjorie Variano of Cornelius, North Carolina. The veteran hang gliding and paragliding instructor was a former resident of Santa Barbara and principal at Adams Elementary School.


Emergency crews have begun the process of removing the body of a paraglider who crashed near La Cumbre Peak Thursday afternoon.

A reporter on scene said crews planned to utilize a helicopter to access the rugged terrain where the woman crashed.

We will have more details as the become available.


A woman is dead after she crashed while paragliding near La Cumbre Peak in Santa Barbara County Thursday afternoon.

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department were among the agencies that responded to the area after receiving the call at around 1:20 p.m.

Santa Barbara County Fire Battalion Chief Larry Ryan said the woman was part of a 20-person group of paragliders that made the jump as part of an annual tradition. When the woman did not make it to their designated meeting spot, friends reported her missing.

Santa Barbara County Fire Captain Dave Zaniboni said two Search and Rescue helicopters combed the area looking for the paraglider.

The helicopters located the parachute in a rock face near La Cumbre Peak two hours after the initial call.

Rescuers were lowered down to the area where the woman was pronounced dead on arrival.

Emergency crews remained on scene to determine the best way to remove the woman’s body. Crews will attempt to remove the body Friday morning after it was determined that it was too dangerous to remove the woman after nightfall.

The helicopters were released from duty but Zaniboni said they may have to return if air support is needed to remove the body.

The identity of the woman has not been released, but authorities confirmed she was in her 50’s.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the woman to crash.

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