Eli Beer of United Hatzolah recounted a miraculous tale in a press release sent out late Friday afternoon:
Herzliya – The Pretter family from Baltimore traveled to Israel with their 5 children to celebrate their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. They are very special people who wanted to have a meaningful time, so they planned to do a lot of Chessed and charity work throughout the trip. They visited United Hatzalah’s Jerusalem Headquarters to tour and learn about their lifesaving work and they generously donated towards a new trauma kit. Leah, their 15-year-old daughter who has a passion for medicine, especially enjoyed the tour.
The next Wednesday, their trip took a very scary turn. They went paragliding on the Herzliya coast, which is usually a safe sport. Leah was with a professional paragliding guide who served in the army for many years and has paraglided thousands of times. A few minutes in, the guide told her to put her feet down as they will soon be landing on the sand. Seconds later they crashed into rocks on a tall cliff. They were holding on and hanging 20 feet from the top of the cliff with a 300 foot drop beneath them. They were all able to speak to each other, but after a few minutes the guide fell unconscious.
Leah was strong and brave and kept holding on tightly to prevent them from falling off the cliff. They were also being supported by their parachute which had landed on top of the cliff and was being held tightly by her father and two other people who witnessed the crash. She was holding as strong as she could for both of them, since the tour guide was unconscious and attached to her. Unfortunately, the guide later passed away as a result of the accident.
United Hatzalah received this call and their incredible volunteer, Miki Zweig, was there within minutes. Miraculously, he is one of the only people who had a key to the locked beach where they were. Miki happens to be part of the rescue team there, but it would not generally be accessible to most drivers or even rescue personnel. Since Miki has a 4×4 jeep, he was able to drive as close to the scene as possible. Leah’s family was also there watching frantically.
There was no way for Miki way to access them by foot, but he along with other emergency responders were able to speak with Leah by yelling from the top of the cliff, keeping her as calm as possible. Miki managed the scene by simultaneously encouraging Leah to hold on, calming onlookers and coordinating with the army to bring in more emergency services and coordinating with other rescue professionals. They arranged to bring an army helicopter from special unit 669 to the scene. Once the helicopter arrived, they lowered a rescue professional towards Leah who was able to cut her away from the guide. They lifted her to a place where they could grab her, assess her and treat her injuries and then put her on a stretcher. She was then transported by the helicopter straight to Tel Hashomer hospital.
When I heard about the amazing rescue, I went to visit Leah at the hospital on my way to the airport since I was leaving to the US that evening. Attached, you can see the beautiful photo we took together. It was very inspiring to be there and talk to Leah and her mother. When I arrived I was so glad to meet another volunteer from our Psychotrauma team who was there helping the Pretter’s cope.
The mission of the Pretter’s trip was to show their kids a good time and do some Chessed. United Hatzalah happened to be an organization they chose to visit but they never expected to need our help. I met Leah’s father Isaac (Yitzie) a few years ago when I spoke at AIPAC and kept in touch with him and I am so glad that he reached out to come visit Headquarters. The Pretter’s donation gives me the strength to continue this hard work raising money for saving lives—lives just like Leah’s.
I want to thank all our volunteers who responded and all our Psychotrauma volunteers who visited the family to prevent PTSD. I also want to thank you for supporting our organization and investing in lifesaving. You should know that anything you do to help support us is so important and every donation we receive allows us to respond to more emergencies.
President – United Hatzalah of Israel