Paratrooper entangled in high-voltage power lines, requiring rescue

A dangerous and unusual rescue took place south of Phoenix on Feb. 19, after a paratrooper got tangled in some high-voltage power lines.

The incident happened south of Arizona City. Officials with the Eloy Fire District say it happened early in the morning, and Eloy fire officials responded to the call at around 4:00 a.m.

"The gentleman was caught in the powerlines. He was awake and alert and extremely lucky," said Assistant Chief Robert Maestas with the Eloy Fire District.

The paratroopers were on a training mission, jumping into the Sawtooth Airport, located south of the Valley, when one man’s parachute got tangled up with power lines.

"The problem is they are high voltage power lines, distribution lines can carry several hundred thousand volts, so our primary concern was getting the power shut off," ssaid Asst. Chief Maestas.

Asst. Chief Maestas said they worked the U.S. Department of Energy and other local companies to perform the rescue. However, they had to wait close to four hours to make sure the power was shut off.

In the meantime, crews were keeping the paratrooper calm.

"On one hand, we didn’t want him to make too much contact with the energized power equipment, and then, on the other hand, we didn’t want him to fall, so it was uncomfortable being up there, but he was honestly, for the situation, about the best position he could be in at that point," said Asst. Chief Maestas.

Crews eventually used a 100ft. bucket ladder to get the paratrooper down.

"When he came down the powerline, he was putting tension on the powerline, so when the crew went up there, they had to relieve that tension to make sure there wasn’t any kind of a whiplash effect on that powerline when we removed him," said Asst. Chief Maestas.

Asst. Chief Maestas said the man had no serious injuries, but was taken to a level 1 trauma center for further evaluation, as a precautionary measure.