Sitka Rep. Jonathan Kriess-Tomkins is recovering from a broken leg sustained in a paragliding accident over the President’s Day weekend in Anchorage.
Kreiss-Tomkins broke both bones of his right leg below the knee on Saturday (2-19-22), and underwent surgery later that afternoon. He was released from the hospital on Sunday.
The mild weather in Anchorage over the holiday weekend was a chance for the Sitka Democrat to go paragliding with fellow Representative Laddie Shaw, a Republican.
The 33-year old Kreiss Tomkins says he and Shaw flew from Flattop Mountain, a popular recreation area just outside of Anchorage.
“It was my first time flying there, needless to say,” Tomkins said. “And so I had basically taken a more conservative — and also longer — flight path, and so had much less elevation as I was approaching landing than would have been ideal. And so that resulted in kind of a non ideal landing.”
The hard landing broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg. Kreiss-Tomkins says that he landed in the snow not far from the parking lot, where EMS personnel were able to reach him without difficulty.
Although Kreiss-Tomkins and Shaw are in opposing political parties, he says they have something in common: a love of adventure.
“He’s a Navy SEAL, and he is a Vietnam vet,” said Kreiss-Tomkins, “and he’s lived quite a life. And we have a lot of shared interests. We’ve been friendly over the years, and he has been sort of a source of encouragement to pursue paragliding.”
Kreiss-Tomkins traveled over the winter break to California, where he became certified in paragliding.
Kreiss-Tomkins says he plans to be back in Juneau on Wednesday night (2-23-22). He expects to spend the next six weeks or so moving around the capitol on crutches. Kreiss-Tomkins says he’ll take time to consider his future in the sport.
“I really enjoy being active and doing sort of adventurous outdoorsy things, but ultimately want to be sort of sober about cost benefits,” he said. “If you’re on crutches for six weeks, you’re not outdoors being active. So I’ll have to evaluate the cost going forward. I’m not quite sure just yet.”
The injury and subsequent surgery kept Kreiss-Tomkins from participating in Tuesday’s (2-22-22) House floor session. However, he appeared telephonically in committee hearings on Wednesday afternoon.