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February 10, 2014

Victim in paraglider crash identified

PLUM ISLAND — The victim of a fatal paraglider crash in the Merrimack River about 50 yards from the shore of Plum Island Point late Saturday has been identified.

Aldaro Etcheverry, 49, of Smithfield, R.I., was pronounced dead at the scene. The Coast Guard pulled him from the chilly 38 degree water off Plum Island Point in about 20 minutes, but the he never regained consciousness, according to Coast Guard officials and police.

The temperature of the water near the accident scene was 38 degrees Saturday. The air temperature was 28 degrees, according to Coast Guard officials.

The man came to Plum Island with a group of others to spend the afternoon flying on both sides of the Merrimack River in pleasure craft known as powered paragliders or paramotors. One official described them as an over-sized sports parachute with a small engine strapped to one’s back.

Two of Etcheverry’s friends attempted to go into the water to save him, but retreated because of the cold, according to Newburyport police Lt. Richard Siemasko. They were treated for exposure and released.

Seimasko said the victim and his friends had been paragliding for most of the afternoon and were completing one last loop when witnesses noticed the victim’s paraglider was having mechanical issues.

According to Siemasko, the point is considered a hot spot for paraglider enthusiasts, but it is rare to see them in the heart of winter.

“We know they are there in the good weather,” Siemasko said.

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