'He will be sorely missed': Investigation launched after man dies in paragliding accident

Family and friends of the man who died in a paragliding accident have paid tributes to the big-hearted enthusiast.

The body of Ralph Skora, who was married with two children, was found on the Ballinacor Estate in Co Wicklow with the wreckage of his glider nearby yesterday morning after a search was launched for him when he failed to return home on Saturday night.

The experienced glider, originally from Poland but who lived in Dublin, had taken off from Black Hill above Blessington Lakes and was last seen heading south over the Wicklow Mountains and Glenmalure.

Philip Lardner of the Irish Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association said that members were shocked and saddened by his loss.

“He was a very likeable fellow and he will be sorely missed,” he said.

Mr Skora’s wife Dominika took to social media to thank the emergency services and volunteers who searched for him.

“Thank you for finding my husband and bringing him back to me,” she said. “Please don’t forget him. I never will.”

Mr Skora, who drove a taxi and was also the Irish distributor for a number of paragliding equipment suppliers, had mounted a social media appeal on Friday to try to reunite an engaged couple with a €500 gift voucher the groom had left behind in his taxi. He later announced with delight that the groom had been located.

Mr Lardner said Mr Skora had helped to inject new energy into the sport which is enjoyed by 100-150 pilots in Ireland and they had no idea what had happened to him.

“Conditions were ideal for soaring on Saturday,” said Mr Lardner. “We are dealing with the Air Accident Investigation Unit and hopefully they will shed some light on what happened. There was so much joy in the air and for it to end like this is very sad.”

Earlier on Saturday, Kerry Mountain Rescue was summoned to rescue a climber who fell on Carrauntoohill but the man was killed in the fall. He was later named as 58-year-old father of three, Ger Duffy, from Loncara, Co Clare.

Separately, three American students were rescued from the base of a 200ft cliff when the tide came in near Slea Head in Kerry on Saturday night. The Shannon- based Rescue 115 helicopter, Valentia Lifeboat, and Dingle sea and cliff rescue team were all involved in the dramatic rescue. It took more than two hours to winch the women to safety. They were treated for hypothermia.

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