At 14h18 on Sunday the 17th of May, NSRI Plettenberg bay duty crew were activated following reports from an ex NSRI crewman, Dr. Herman Nel, reporting that he and his family had come across a situation, while hiking on the Robberg Nature Reserve hiking trail, where two men had been swept off rocks at Robberg Nature reserve hiking trail. One man was missing and one man seriously injured. The injured man was with some hikers, believed to be from Canada, who had found him.
Dr. Nel began emergency treatment on the 39 year old man (Andre) who was suffering multiple lacerations, severe bruising to his body, arms and legs, and suspected fractures to his right arm and a leg.
Dr. Nel was able to determine from Andre that he and his 34 year old friend, Jacques, (both from Vanderbijlpark and on holiday in Plettenberg Bay) were taking pictures of the sea. Andre had walked up a section at Blaas Gat, Robberg Nature Reserve, when a wave swept him off the rocks into the sea.
Jacques, seeing his friend swept off the rocks and into the water, had jumped into the water to try to help him but was swept, in very rough sea conditions, into a gulley.
Andre had managed to get out of the water onto rocks but having lost sight of his friend, and fearing that his friend had drowned, crawled over rocks towards the beach to try to find help when a group of hikers, believed to be Canadians, came across him and shortly after that, Dr. Nel, his wife, his daughter and a friend of his daughter, came across the scene.
Dr. Nel and the daughters friend, Andre Barnard, went in search of the Jacques, and during that time they also went to a higher part of “The Island”, at Robberg Nature Reserve, to make a call to NSRI Plettenberg Bay to raise the alarm. At that stage it was reported as a suspected drowning in progress.
Dr. Nel and Andre Barnard then found Jacques in amongst rocks in a gulley in the sea and being battered by swells in a rising sea tide and suffering multiple lacerations, bruising, a head injury and a suspected fractured spine. Together they managed to move him to higher ground and out of danger. Dr. Nel was also able to confirm to the responding crews that the missing man had now been found.
At that stage the first of NSRI Plettenberg Bay rescue crew who had responded by road were arriving on the scene followed by NSRI crew who had responded by sea aboard the sea rescue craft LEONARD SMITH and by paramedics from WC Government Health EMS and Med-Life ambulance services.
Jacques was in an area that was threatened by the rising high tide and he was secured to a trauma board. Because the rising high tide and rough sea conditions threatened to engulf the area where he was being treated rescuers carried him to a higher point of the Nature Reserve.
The AMS/EMS Skymed helicopter that had been activated from Oudtshoorn was en route to the scene having picked up two NSRI Air Sea Rescue volunteers who had earlier been taking part in an Air Sea Rescue exercise at NSRI Wilderness.
On arrival on the scene the Skymed helicopter static line hoisted Jacques, who was suffering a suspected fractured spine and multiple lacerations and bruising, secured into a specialized hoisting stretcher, to the Robberg Nature Reserve car park where paramedics continued with medical treatment.
Andre, with the suspected fractured arm and leg as well as lacerations and bruising, was then also static line hoisted to the Robberg car park.
Andre was transported by ambulance to hospital in Plettenberg Bay in a serious but stable condition.
He has been stabilized and is being transferred to hospital in George.
Jacques has been airlifted by the Skymed helicopter to hospital in George in a serious but stable condition and has been admitted to surgery.
This picture is available for media use on Sea Rescue’s Flickr page.
UPDATE: Jacques and Andre made a video to say thank you to the NSRI Plett crew