At 16h00, Saturday, 05th July, NSRI Port St Johns volunteer crew were activated following a request for assistance from a man reporting to have been separated from his wife and two small children during a hike at Cremorne in the vicinity of Mount Sullivan, near to the mouth of the Umzimvubu River mouth, Port St Johns, during Saturday afternoon. It appears that the family, from Kimberley, were hiking when they lost the hiking trail that they were on during the afternoon.
The husband went to find the trail and while searching he reportedly heard his wife screaming for him but when he returned to where he left them they were no longer there and he could not make further contact with his wife.
The husband searched for his family but the rocky and steep terrain made it difficult and he went back to their accommodation holiday camp to raise the alarm fearing that they may have fallen from the cliffs.
Police were dispatched and a search was conducted which included community members but nothing was found and then from early evening NSRI Port St Johns volunteers joined in the search with local community members which continued throughout most of the night.
NSRI Port St Johns volunteer sea rescue duty crew dispatched a search party to begin a search together with local community members and although in a relatively small search area the search was made difficult by steep cliff faces in a remote and barely accessible area.
After no sign of the mans wife, his 3 year old son and his 11 month old daughter, could be located by midnight additional help was sought and the SA Police Services dispatched a Police K-9 Search and Rescue Dog Squad to assist in the search and an EC Government Health EMS helicopter was dispatched on Sunday morning to join in the search.
A Mountain Club Rescue team and an SA Air Force helicopter from 15 Squadron, Charlie Flight, Port Elizabeth, were placed on alert.
Then this morning, Sunday, 06 July, local community members taking part in the search and rescue operation came across the mother and the two children walking along a road towards their holiday camp.
All were brought safely to the camp and they are found to be not injured.
It appears that the mother and her children had also gone in search of the hiking trail and had been separated from the husband. The mother and the two children spent the night huddled in a gorge in shelter and this morning found a trail and managed to reach the road when they were then found safe.
NSRI commend the multiple emergency services that got involved and the search parties and local community members who converged on the search operation during yesterday and during the early hours of this Sunday morning to join in the search as the gravity of the situation grew greater.
Nicole de Wit, 34, an American citizen from Michigan, who has dual citizenship in South Africa, and her husband, Joshua de Wit, from Kimberly who also has dual citizenship in the United States, aged in his later 30’s, from Kimberley, they are holidaying with their children, an 11 month old daughter and 3 year old son, and regularly go hiking.