I got the call at 13:20 for a hiking accident at Peak Formosa, which lies between Louterwater and Stormsriver. This is the highest peak in the Tsitsikamma mountains, rising to 5495ft above sea level. A 73 year old man had fallen whilst hiking back down the peak with a group of 9 friends.
I routed initially for Joubertina, then was informed by the Metro control room to continue to Louterwater, where we would meet an ambulance that would guide us to the accident site. A local doctor at Louterwater stopped and provided directions for us to the accident site. We landed at the dam at the base of the peak at 14:43.
The Red Cross AMS Agusta 119 Koala from Oudsthoorn had arrived on scene 5 minutes before us, and was busy searching the cliff base for signs of the elderly hiker. They found the remains of the body at the base of a deep gorge. The man had fallen 300 meters to his death. Rescue medics were dropped into the gorge to collect the remains of the body. The Red Cross AMS Helicopter landed back at the dam whilst the rescue medics were busy in the gorge. Once the body remains had been recovered, the Red Cross AMS Helicopter returned to the accident scene to hoist the crew and body out.
The 73 year old man had been part of a group of nine hikers. The party had split close to the top, as the knife edge section was too difficult for some of the group. The victim was part of the group of four that had continued to the top and were on their way back down the knife edge when the victim fell to his death. He was helping another member of the group get their footing, when he lost his own footing. I can’t imagine the trauma of seeing your friend fall to his death!
We decided to return to base as there was nothing we could do with the victim being confirmed dead on scene. A big thanks to the Red Cross pilot for recovering the body in the gorge at the base of a formidable 300 meter cliff face.
Bell Longranger 206L4, Fuel used 323Ltrs, flying time (base to base) – 2.4 hours.