At 16h05 (01/04/2011) NSRI Plettenberg Bay volunteers were called out following reports of a woman who fell at “The Gully” on the Eastern side of Natures Valley, 11 nautical miles East of Plettenberg Bay.
NSRI Plettenberg Bay volunteers launched 3 sea rescue craft; Ian Hepburn, Air Link Rescuer and the Discovery Rescue Runner.
A Mountain Club Search and Rescue team, Metro EMS, the Metro EMS Red Cross AMS helicopter, the SA Police Services, Medlife Paramedics, a private Robertson 44 helicopter and a mobile NSRI volunteer response team were also sent to Natures Valley.
NSRI rescue swimmers were deployed into the surf to commence a swim and free dive search of a gully after it was confirmed that Nola-Marie Barnard, 20, had fallen from rocks into a gully. NSRI rescuers also traversed the cliff side to search along the barely accessible cliff face.
Following an extensive search the her body was discovered deep into a cave below a rocky cliff approximately 60 meters from where she had fallen 15 meters.
The NSRI rescue team commenced a technical body recovery operation using a floating stretcher, timing waves that reached the height of the ceiling of the cave, to be swum into the cave. Her body was loaded onto the floating stretcher and swum out of the cave and loaded onto our sea rescue craft Ian Hepburn. The body was handed into the care of the SA Police Services and the Forensic Pathology Services at Plettenberg Bay rescue base.
The Mountain Club Search and Rescue team set up a technical rope structure to rescue her male companion from a barely accessible stretch of rocks. The man, a local, was severely traumatized by the incident but not injured, and is receiving trauma counseling.
All emergency services involved in the operation are commended for their participation in a highly technical and difficult operation and sincerest condolences have been expressed to the family of Nola-Marie Barnard.