Deon Truter, NSRI Plettenberg Bay station commander, said: “At 09h15 on Thursday 10th January NSRI Plettenberg Bay crew were activated following reports of 3 hikers swept out to sea through the Bloukrans River Mouth while hiking on the Otter Trail.
“It appears that 8 hikers from Salt River (3 men and 5 women) had tried to cross the Bloukrans River, while hiking on the Otter Trail together.
“Five had made it across to the other side safely but the current had swept the remaining 3 out to sea through the Bloukrans River Mouth. (2 women and a man were swept out to sea).
“Our NSRI Plettenberg Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft LEONARD SMIT and responded. Sea conditions were rough with a 4 to 5 meter swells.
“We found the 5 hikers who had managed to get to the other side of the river were safe. The other 3 hikers had been swept further out to sea and they had reached some rocks and had clambered onto the rocks but in the rough sea conditions our sea rescue boat was not able to rescue them off the rocks and the WC Government Health EMS rescue helicopter – Skymed 2 – was activated.
“NSRI rescue swimmer, Robert Gibson, was taken onboard Skymed 2 and he was winch hoisted from the helicopter onto the rocks where he secured the 3 casualties. They have been successfully winch hoisted into the Skymed 2 rescue helicopter and reunited with their friends. No one was injured.
“The hiking back packs of the 3 who were sept out to sea have been lost at sea.”