LISTEN: How a Juneau arborist saved a paraglider stuck between two trees

A person descends from a tree
A paraglider who was stuck between two trees on Mt. Roberts Sunday was saved by Talon Lobaugh. (Screenshot from image courtesy of Talon Lobaugh) Double click for more detailed view.

Talon Lobaugh owns Everybody’s Tree service, and he really knows how to climb a tree. That’s why some residents call him whenever a drone or a pet gets stuck high up in the trees. 

But he’d never saved a person — until Sunday  — when he got a call from Capital City Fire and Rescue about a paraglider who got stuck between two trees on Mount Roberts. After several hours, Lobaugh was able to save her.

Lobaugh, in an interview in an interview with KTOO’s Pablo Arauz Peña, explained how it happened.

Listen to the interview here:

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KTOO: So what happened on Sunday?

Lobaugh: Somebody called me from search and rescue, inquiring about a paraglider that had gotten caught up in the tree, roughly 60 feet off the ground at the Mount Roberts tram. So I went ahead and drove myself to the parking lot at the tram. Parked, put my gear back on, got to the site. By about seven o’clock I was getting into a tree, the tree that she was in.

KTOO: What was the process like trying to save her?

Lobaugh: Finesse, honestly. I was so tired. I pulled a 12-hour day in the trees before I even got there. So, I just had to have my wits about me. And it wasn’t too complicated. I mean, granted, I’m dealing with somebody, instead of like a piece of wood. Or like, maybe if I go and do a rescue for a cat or something like it was I was definitely a little more nervous about it, but I just did what I do. And that was set, block and tackle, basically as if I were to rig out a tree over somebody’s house.

Yeah, I was real, real gentle about it, obviously. I had her secured before I even set everything up to lower her down. I’d actually cleared prep the tree on the way up clean all the branches that were going to be in the path of her to sit down so she didn’t get scratched up and all that she was a little heatstroked, you know, I’ve been stuck in the sun for I don’t know how long.

KTOO: How’s she doing now? Is she OK?

Lobaugh: Yes, to the best of my knowledge. I just talked to her. She just actually had a husband come by and pay me for the job.

KTOO: Have you done something like this before?

Lobaugh: Actually, earlier in the week, I rescued two blue herons out of a nest. Two juvenile blue herons out of a nest that had been there. I think the mom had gotten taken out by an eagle. Yeah, I got those guys out and they went to the Raptor Center. 

KTOO: OK, but never a person?

Lobaugh: No, no. I’ve helped other climbers and like, you know, working for other companies or working under me at my company like I’ve had to repel people out of the trees, like show him how to get themselves down because they get up there thinking they can do it and they get too scared kind of deal.  But this was just like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if she’s supported. I don’t know if the wind starts blowing like, there’s a high possibility that she’s going to float out of it and then crash down to the ground.’ Like definitely an emergency situation. Yeah, it’s something totally new to me.

KTOO: How are you feeling after you’ve saved a person out of a tree?

Lobaugh: I feel like anybody who just pulled a 17-hour day yesterday in this heat? Just doing hard labor. That’s how I’m feeling. A little worn out, man. I’m stoked. I’m really happy and really fortunate that I get to actually service my community in these matters.  

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