Fourteen Hikers cut off by rain floods, assisted to safety by NSRI

By Bev Mortimer – On Friday this weekend week 14 hikers cut off by flood waters were airlifted in three relays by helicopter organised by NSRI volunteer duty crews.

Photo of stranded hikers , NSRI rescue members, angers and paramedics

The Lottering River on the Tsiskamma hiking trail, on the North Eastern side of the Bloukrans River in the Eastern Cape , had become flooded and the hikers were trapped between two rivers.

NSRI volunteer duty crews Oyster Bay, Tsistiskamma and Plettenberg Bergand Moutain Forestry rangers were alerted by NSRI Knysna that heard of the hikers’ plight first. A helicopter was organised to be on standby.

The 14 hikers, nine ladies and five young, mostly university students, had crossed the Lottering River in the morning and when they reached the next river, Elandsbos River, they were unable to cross it owing to swiftly flowing flood waters. They then backtracked to the Lottering River, also now swollen,, and they were were now trapped in the Rushes Pass Valley.

NSRI Plettenberg Bay joined Plettenberg Bay First Responders and Mountain rangers and, using a fire truck, reached the hikers late Friday late afternoon. It was too dark so efforts to rescue the hikers were suspended till Saturday morning.

In the interim Lodewyk van Rensburg, NSRI Oyster Bay and NSRI Storms River station commander, assisted by Ian Gray, NSRI Eastern Cape regional director, initiated a joint operation to assist in the rescue of the hikers on Saturday morning – in cooperation with Storms River Police station, the Police Dive Unit, MTO Forestry commanders and Eastern Cape Government Health EMS who together prepared a rescue operation to begin at first light on Saturday morning.

The hikers, who were well equipped, gathered fire wood and made a make-shift campsite. Whatsapp by the hikers at an elevated post nearby.

A JOCC (Joint Operations Command Centre) was set up at the MTO Lottering Forestry Station on Saturday morning, headed by Eastern Cape Government Health EMS and by the SA Police Services in cooperation with NSRI Oyster Bay. NSRI teams from Oyster Bay, Storms River, Jeffreys Bay, MTO rangers, SA National Parks Tsitsikamma rangers, Eastern Cape Government Health EMS, the SA Police Services Storms River Police Station and SAPS Dive Unit, Plettenberg Bay First Responders, NSRI Plettenberg Bay and a helicopter all reached the Tsitsikamma Lottering Forestry Station during the early hours of Saturday morning.

An NSRI Plettenberg Bay rescue vehicle and a private 4×4 vehicle were dispatched by road to the nearest dirt track to the Keurbos Hut and NSRI members then hiked to the Keurbos hut carrying gear.

A helicopter, piloted by Greg Johnson, and accompanied by NSRI Plettenberg Bay rescue swimmer, Nathan Hart, EMS rescue paramedic, Jaco Kotze, and Plettenberg Bay First responders medic, James Stewart, reached the hikers. Three hikers were treated for mild smoke inhalation by paramedics.

rope across the chest-deep flowing river was tightened and used to help the hikers across. Thee hikers then hiked 800 meters to the helicopter landing zone on the dirt track. They were airlifted aboard the helicopter in relays and taken to to the Lottering Forestry Station’s JOCC where some parents met the hikers.

An EMS ambulance was dispatched and on standby with EMS paramedics, who medically assessed the hikers when they landed by helicopter and they were all fine and were ables to access their vehicles and depart for their homes from the Forestry Station.
The NSRI commended all services who assisted in this big rescue evacuation operation.


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