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Victims in deadly paragliding accident at Torrey Pines Gliderport identified

Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 09:00:09-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office released the identities of the two men killed in a paragliding accident over the weekend.

The ME identified the victims as 43-year-old Glenn Johnny Peter Bengtsson, of Carlsbad, and Raul Gonzalez Valerio, 61, of Laguna Hills.

Questions still remain regarding the double fatal collision at Torrey Pines Gliderport on Saturday afternoon. The two certified pilots were flying their paragliders when they collided into each other, fell into a cliff, and died, authorities said.

RELATED: 2 paragliders dead after colliding in mid-air, crashing into cliff

Many who were at the Gliderport said Saturday's weather conditions were absolutely perfect, so they do not believe the incident was weather-related. While many people were flying, they said there were not enough people in the air at the time, so there wasn’t any aerial traffic jam.

Both men were certified pilots, one with an advanced certification. They both were aware of the rules -- to keep a safe distance between each other, and that the glider along the ocean needs to make way for the one flying along the cliffs, who has the right-of-way.

So what exactly happened? Many 10News spoke to said it must have been a freak accident.

Now, the Torrey Pines Gliderport staff, San Diego police, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, and the Medical Examiner's Office are working to find answers.

Gabriel Jebb with the Torrey Pines Gliderport issued 10News this statement:

We share our sorrow at the loss of two members of our close-knit soaring community. While each individual who engages in gliding of any kind understands the risks inherent in our sport, and though the Torrey Pines Gliderport is amongst the world’s safest soaring sites, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn yesterday’s loss. Currently, our investigative team (which combined has over a 100 years of experience in gliding sports), as well as our local authorities (including the San Diego Police, San Diego Fire Departments, and the Medical Examiner’s Office) are reviewing the available data in order to assess what went wrong and why. Once those investigations are complete, we will share our combined conclusions. Until then, we are unable to further comment on these on-going investigations. In the interim, we ask that all celebrate the lives of the two individuals lost in yesterday’s tragic accident and that you keep them, and their families, in your thoughts and prayers.

The fatality rate in paragliding is one in 100,000. This is the same statistic as automobile fatalities in the US. But because there are much fewer paragliders, this may seem much rarer.

Torrey Pines Gilderport staff may host a memorial fly-in for the two men. But they have not yet decided on a date.