NSRI volunteer’s heroic efforts to save hikers at Haga Haga

 An NSRI Port Edward volunteer yesterday assisted a hiker who fractured his ankle plus he rescued a woman hiker who fell into the sea and five  children at Haga Haga on the Wild Coast.

In a race against time owing to the incoming Spring Tide,  John Nicholas, 51, had to carry the 33-year–old injured man, Wesley Dragh, several hundred metres to get him to higher ground before the tide came in. He has been commended by the NSRI for his heroic actions in saving the party of seven hikers.

Nichols, 51, was off duty  yesterday, 22 June, and on holiday at Haga Haga with his family. His son,  Johnathan, 13, went hiking with friends from Somerset West , Wesley Dragh and Dafre Trotsky, 43, and their four children aged between 6 and 8.

While hiking on the South side of Haga Haga along the shoreline, Wesley reached out to prevent his daughter falling onto the rocks. In doing so he jumped onto rocks and fractured his right ankle.

At 2pm Johnathan phoned his father to raise the alarm. Nicholas raced to the scene but on arrival, found Wesley and the rest of the hiking party trapped on a ledge that would soon be swamped by the tide. While busy planning to move Wesley to safety, Dafre was swept off the rocks into the sea by a wave.

Nicholas jumped into the sea and managed to rescue her bringing her safely to shore. She was uninjured and she, the children and Johnathan then moved to higher ground.

Nicholas phoned NSRI Port Edward station commander, Mick Banks, asking for help as fast as possible to assist in moving Wesley. Banks phoned NSRI East London which summoned the EC Government Health EMS rescue helicopter.

In the  interim Nicholas got two local fishermen to assist him  to rig a make-shift pine plank board and they then carried Wesley about 500 metres up a cliff.

When the helicopter arrived it was unable to land nearby so Nicholas arranged a bakkie to transport the EMS paramedic and his stretcher to Wesley. The bakkie was also unable to reach the patient because of the difficult terrain, so  Wesley was secured into the stretcher plank and carried another 300 meters up the cliff to the bakkie.

He was then transported on the back of the bakkie to the helicopter, airlifted and flown to an East London hospital. His fracture was set in cast and he returned to Haga Haga this morning.

Wesley will undergo further treatment when he returns to Somerset East. He is in pain but recovering. He is extremely grateful for Nicholas’ efforts to get him and the rest of the hiking party to safety.


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