Victim of Santa Barbara paragliding accident identified

November 26, 2016

Officials have identified the woman killed in a Thanksgiving Day paragliding accident in Santa Barbara County as 56-year-old Marjorie “Marge” Variano of Cornelius, North Carolina. Variano, who previously lived in Santa Barbara, was paragliding off Gibraltar Road with a group of 20 friends.

Shortly after 1 p.m., she did not arrive at a designated meeting spot and a friend reported Variano, a paragliding instructor, as missing.

The fire department responded with two search and rescue helicopters. After about two hours, searchers found the woman’s parachute on a rock face near La Cumbre Peak.

Rescue crews were then lowered to a spot below the parachute.

After hiking over an hour up the canyon, a paramedic was able to climb to the location and determined Variano had died. However, because of the steep terrain and fading light, rescuers opted not to remove the body until the next morning.

On Friday morning, Santa Barbara County rescue personnel worked for more than five hours to recover the decedent.