News, News Feed, Technical Rescue

CA Firefighters Save ‘Santa’ Who Crashed into Power Lines

Matthias Gafni

San Francisco Chronicle

(MCT)

Dec. 21—Because it’s 2020, a man dressed as Santa Claus and delivering candy canes to neighborhood children in a Sacramento suburb on Sunday morning crashed his aircraft into power lines and had to be rescued from the live wires.

The unidentified Kris Kringle fortunately was not electrocuted as he flew his ultralight-type aircraft into residential power lines, dangling upside down for an hour before firefighters could rescue him, said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Capt. Chris Vestal. He was uninjured and coherent, Vestal said.

“We don’t know where he was coming from or where exactly he was going,” Vestal said.

“We didn’t confirm if he came from the North Pole, but that would be pretty far,” he said with a laugh.

Firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 11 a.m. near the intersection of 7th Avenue and M Street in Rio Linda and found the red-and-white Santa hanging upside down in his aircraft with his red, white and blue parachute tangled in the lines. When firefighters arrived, Vestal said, the lines were live and had to be shut down by Sacramento Municipal Utility District workers. About 200 homes in the area lost power, he said.

Eventually Santa, holding onto a firefighter a little more tightly than he’s used to handling reindeer, slowly got lowered from the lines to the street below.

Nearby residents told firefighters that the man delivers candy from his aircraft every year.

“Unfortunately, he was unable to meet that goal on this day,” Vestal said. “We do commend him for doing that and can appreciate the timing to try and bring the spirit, especially this year.”

It was the first time Vestal could remember a Santa Claus crashing a flying machine into Sacramento area power lines, but two years ago the fire captain responded to one stuck in a chimney trying to rob a Carmichael bar.

Matthias Gafni is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @mgafni

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