The organizing Committee of The Willi XC regretfully announces that following a serious accident near the summit of Mount 7, a paragliding pilot has lost his life on Day 2 of The Willi XC Challenge. The pilot, James Pfrunder, was originally from Australia but was currently residing in Invermere, B.C.
The incident was witnessed by other pilots, and Golden Search & Rescue responded by helicopter and SAR technicians were lowered to the scene. James was then transported by helicopter to Golden & District Hospital. An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death.
The release of James’ name and details of the incident were delayed so that family members in Australia could be notified.
Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Zara, young daughter Odessa, family, and friends inside and outside the flying community.
Any excess funds generated by the Willi this year will be donated to Zara and Odessa. Details of a GoFundMe page for Zara and Odessa will be provided soon for pilots and friends who choose to contribute.
This was James’ 3rd Willi, having participated in 2014 and 2015. He had become part of the Willi family, and we will miss flying with him in the future.
Safety is of the utmost priority for The Willi XC, which uses the latest satellite tracking technology to determine the exact location of pilots at all times. A detailed accident report will be submitted to the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada upon conclusion of the accident investigation.
Thank you to everyone who assisted in the response to this incident, especially Golden SAR, local RCMP, Alpine Helicopters and the staff at Golden Hospital.