Mike Vonk, NSRI Wilderness deputy station commander, said:
On 03 January 2019 a hiking party of twelve people, including 5 children, set off on a kloofing trip down the Kaaimans river, near Wilderness, departing at about 15h45. The group may have underestimated the difficult terrain and rapids, which had been exacerbated by high water levels as a result of the previous day’s rain, as well as the distance of the route.
Early on in the trip, one of the group was able make telephonic contact with a relative to inform them that they would be taking longer than expected.
A second call to the same relative after 18h15 was disconnected due to limited cell phone reception in the gorge.
Unable to make further contact with the group and uncertain of their well being the relative alerted emergency services.
WC Government Health EMS rescue services contacted an NSRI Wilderness rescue swimmer who is also a commercial canyoning adventure tour operator on the Kaaiman’s River.
A team of NSRI Station 23 Wilderness crew, all swift water rescue qualified, was assembled at the Map of Africa view point.
EMS rescue and George Fire ad Rescue services also responded.
Three different sectors of the river were searched.
The hiking group had split, and 3 members had gone ahead down river to seek help, leaving the remaining 5 children (ages 3, 6, 7, 8, 8) and 4 adults to continue at a slower pace.
Rescue crews located the advance group at approximately 20h00 – they confirmed that the remaining 9 were still on the river and they were able to provide an estimate of their location.
Two NSRI rescue teams that had searched different sectors then joined together and the single rescue team of 5 rescuers proceeded down the gorge and searched up river towards the casualty group. The casualties were located and they were not injured but were found to be exhausted, cold and the children were distressed.
We assisted the party to swim a section and we led the group to a point where they could then proceed, using headlights, down the rocks and along the river bank with the children all being carried.
At this point, a team of 3 volunteers from Outeniqua Trail Running Search & Rescue team had made their way from near the river mouth and they reached the rescue group. Additional space blankets were used to help warm the casualties and the group proceeded to hike down the canyon until reaching the emergency vehicles.
After medical assessment by NSRI and George Fire Department medics, the casualties were transported back to the Map of Africa and reunited with their families.
05 January 2018 at 18h39 NSRI Wilderness was alerted by a guest house owner in Wilderness who reported a paraglider had collided with the steep dune on the coast and was not able to make her way out of the dense vegetation. A NSRI medic was dispatched to scene and WC Government EMS rescue was activated.
An EMS rescue technician and NSRI medic were able to reach the casualty, a female paraglider who was on holiday from Germany, and were able to assist her out the thick bush to safety.
She was treated for scratches but did not suffer any serious injuries.
Schalk Boonzaaier, NSRI Kleinmond station commander, said:
At 16h50, Saturday, 05th January, NSRI Station 42 Kleinmond and NSRI Station 17 Hermanus responded with WC Government Health EMS to the Palmiet River Bridge where a 21 year old male had fallen approximately 7 meters down a cliff.
The casualty, from Eerste River, was treated on the scene for injuries sustained in the fall before being transported to hospital by ambulance in a stable condition.