Off-Course Paratrooper Rescued from Tree

Photo courtesy of Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot


Staff Writer

Last month, U.S. Army paratrooper’s jump into Lake Auman took a wrong turn and left him caught approximately 40 feet up in a pine tree on Morris Drive in West End before five local fire and rescue crews responded and were able to safely return him to the ground with minor injuries.

West End Fire and Rescue was already on the scene observing the Army exercise jump into the lake located in Seven Lakes West and responded after noticing the paratrooper floating off course toward the trees just after noon that day, according to Captain Austin Hubbard.

“We had already established a plan if that were to happen,” Hubbard said. “When we realized he wasn’t going to land in the designated area, we went ahead and activated our plan to respond several units over there and identify the problem.”

Using a ropes system, West End was able to safely lower the paratrooper to a height of one of the extension ladders that was on the rescue truck that responded to the scene.

“We had a rescuer up to him within 30 minutes,” Hubbard said. “He was out of the tree within 50 minutes.”

Aberdeen Fire Department responded with a tower truck to retrieve the paratrooper’s parachute and other equipment out of the tree.

“It’s a strange occurrence. It doesn’t happen a lot but we do train for this sort of thing,” Hubbard said. “We’re a heavy rescue department so we’re equipped with all the rope and things for this type of situation.”

Hubbard said this was the first type of this rescue in the West End area in the last five years.

Fire and rescue units from Aberdeen, Fort Bragg, Seven Lakes and Eagle Springs also responded to the call.

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or