The adventurous side of Rescue

Being a volunteer rescue unit, we are all about the people…

Because we are about the people, we are always looking at ways to get involved with communities and different social aspects where the need for specialised rescue is likely event.

That brings us to our recent involvement with Pinetown Off Road Club, better know as PORC, and their social event dubbed South to West.

South to West, is an offroad motorcycle ride, not just any ride, its a social ride which includes young riders, ladies and experienced riders all out there together. And to make it even more challenging there is no route markings, its completely navigational with a GPS route only!

So this is where we come into play, 190 riders give or take, out in the bush riding 87 kilometers between Karidene on the South Coast to Westmead in Pinetown… We decide to join the ride and look after the riders should they need it.

Getting ourselves set up at the start of the ride

Getting ourselves set up at the start of the ride

We took our response vehicle out onto the route as backup, and since the vehicle could not follow the entire route, we hauled out the Side x Side and kitted it out, as well as Dan on his bike with enough gear to execute a rescue and stabilize a patient til rescue vehicle arrives.

Parking off along the route waiting for bikes to pass

Parking off along the route waiting for bikes to pass

The ride for us, turned out to be a rather social affair with us chatting to riders on the route and stopping off all over for a bit here and there.

Of course, we were put to good use during the event as well, with the first piece of action being at the biggest river crossing of the day, where a rider sunk his bike so deep in the sand the only way out was some digging and drag by the 4×4 power of the Side x Side…

Hitching up to drag the bike out the sand

Hitching up to drag the bike out the sand

The whole ride took us as rescue crew a little over 9 hours to complete, but not without one incident where a female rider had a rather nasty crash. We sorted out her cuts and bruises and then transported both her and her bike to a point where the marshal could collect.

Once we had gotten to the finish though was when the real fun began, two riders had gotten lost and ran out of fuel. So…

The fun began, tracing their cell phone signal and navigating to their position via GPS. Just over an hour later we found the two riders, some 2.5km off course.

We refueled their bikes and headed off with them following us back. However, this only lasted just over a km where after one of the bikes broke down and would not start again. We hooked up a tow line and began to tow one bike back while the other one rode.

2 km later the second bike broke down as well. So we had two bikes in tow behind us while we wound our way through the river and up the mountain side, all of this in the dark!

Eventually we get the riders to the tar road where they are met by a vehicle to load up their bikes, and we then continued back to the finish. Completing an additional 56 kilometers.

Parked off at the finish, just moments before being sent out to look for lost riders

Parked off at the finish, just moments before being sent out to look for lost riders

As a whole it was an awesome day out in the bush, and we will see all the riders again for the Eston 2 day navigational in November!

Something you never understand…

After a few very quiet months on the Eastern front we received two calls for assistance a few weeks apart.


Both calls for a suicide in progress… The worst kind of response call ever.


You just know, from the word go that its a volatile situation you are responding to, and at best you are going to arrive there and have to wait around while a negotiator tries to talk the person out of it… However, that is the best case, and 90% of them are all over when you arrive and the situation becomes one of unpleasantness as was in both of these cases.

In the first case which was a sunny Friday morning in the middle of April, a request for immediate assistance was sent out to which we responded.


Arriving on scene we descovered that there was one single ambulance standing next to the road and no one in sight, after some time we discovered we needed to walk up this steep slope to the scene where we found a male had taken his life by hanging.

Which left us with the grizzly task of recovering the body from the tree and transporting it out to the road.

Recovering the body of the victim

Recovering the body of the victim

The next incident we responded to is one that completely wreaks havoc with the brain…

We get a request fro assistance, to yet again, a suicide in progress, and we need to please use discretion with sirens are to not create further alarm in the situation. The scene is on the N3 highway just outside Durban, and its peak afternoon traffic…

Vehicles lined up on the side of the freeway

Vehicles lined up on the side of the freeway

What gets to you, is the question of why… When you arrive on scene, and walk past the victims car, keys in the ignition, hazards flashing… And you speak to the first cop you come across and he tells you that he found the victims ID book on the passenger seat next to his lunch box…

You mind goes mad trying to process all of this…

Why would someone, pull over on a bridge in peak hour traffic and proceed to end their life by jumping off said bridge… why?

What goes through that persons mind to go through with such an act…

Leaving an indescribable mess for us to clean up at the bottom…

After waiting for an hour for the detectives to arrive and photograph the scene, the body was packaged into a bag and secured to a basket to be hauled out from the 60 metre gully below.

By this time it was dark, traffic had died down a bit and we needed to hurry up. The extrication was sped up by the use of a rope winch and simply dragging the basket up the slope.

Lining the rescue vehicle up to light up the working area

Lining the rescue vehicle up to light up the working area

Pulling the body to the top

Pulling the body to the top

These calls are never easy… Simply because we do not understand…



If you suffer from depression or know of someone who does, or if you are in financial trouble, marital trouble or anything that is driving you or someone you know over the edge… Please, speak to someone…

Call any of the numbers below, someone will talk to you and assist you – it is never too late!

031 765 1314 Crisis Careline & Trauma

0800 567 567 Suicide Crisis Line (SADAG)

0800 50 20 26 Pharmadynamics Police and Trauma line

10111 SA Police Service – if all else fails they will help!


Please, no one enjoys picking up the pieces…

Drak Challenge

Over the weekend of 24th and 25th January, the little town of Underberg high up in the mountains of the Natal Midlands came alive with mountain bikers, white water kayakers, trail runners and of course the main reason, Canoeists!


Rescuetech, under the leadership of myself spent the weekend providing technical rescue support to Berg Medical for all of the events.


Day One:

Day one we found ourselves being dropped off on a farm called Wild Dog, where we were to make our way on foot to a rapid called Black Murray…


Here is the team kitting up for the walk to Black Murray

The team was split into two, with two guys manning the mountain bike trail that had a seriously steep descent into the valley, and the other two guys manning a rapid as well as the mountain bike trail along side the river where it rode along a cliff.

Black Murray Rapid

Black Murray Rapid

The day was fairly uneventful out on the river with only a few minor mishaps in the rapid and a few mountain bikers taking tumbles.

Temperature however was not very forgiving with it sitting in the mid 30’s all day.

Once the last paddler had moved on through we packed up and headed to the finish line and that is when we had a real test.

We had been at the finish for a little over 30 minutes when a cyclist came racing into the medical tent telling us that a fellow had had collapsed on the course and was delirious and incoherent.

We jumped in a vehicle and raced off to the location, where we found a male cyclist on the verge of unconsciousness on the trail… A quick assessment ascertained that the rider had a severe onset of heat exhaustion and immediate medical attention was necessary.

We rushed the patient back to the finish area where we had arranged an IV bag to be prepped with drugs and waiting for our arrival. The patient was IV’d imediately upon arrival and placed on monitors to check vital signs. Core temp was 39 degrees and he had hypothermia and was burning up. We tried covering the patient in ice which didn’t really work.

It was at this stage we made a call to place the patient in a rescue basket and attach floats to it and place him in the river which had a steady water temp of 18 degrees. An hour and half of doing this in rotations completely stabilized the patient to the point that when we were finished with him he went home like nothing had happened!

Day Two:

For the second day, we were again taken out early in the morning and dropped off in the middle of nowhere.

This time at the highest point on the mountain bike route where the descent was really steep and rocky.

The drop off point on top of the mountain

The drop off point on top of the mountain

It became apparent really early on that this spot was going to get its fair share of sunlight and we were going to take a beating up there.

So before the riders came through we decided to make ourselves as comfortable as possible and organise some shade using whatever gear we could from inside our trailer…

Creating some shade using a camo net out my backpack and ropes

Creating some shade using a camo net out my backpack and ropes

And boy did we cook out there…

PP and Dan losing their clothing to try keep cool

PP and Dan losing their clothing to try keep cool

Fortunately the Sunday was a very quiet day on top of the mountain, and we headed back to the finish area with plenty time on hand to watch some of the paddlers complete the race.

All in all it was a great event to be at and a lot of coverage was received.

And over and above that we thank Euro Steel download (2) immensely for their generous donation to our organisation.

Rider Down…

On a hot Saturday morning in the beginning of January, what started out as a fun off road motorbike outing turned in a very long arduous wait followed by a testing few hours of endurance…


January 4, 2014, 11:00, a call for assistance is received by a group of off road rider, who tell operations phone that one of their friends has fallen and is injured in a very remote inaccessible area. They tell us that he doesn’t complain ever about falling off, but he is complaining about pain, so they very concerned.

Straight away the team is contacted and put on standby to assist in evacuating the injured biker.

Once the unit is assembled at the meeting point in Drummond, the search is set in motion to find the location of these riders. It was realised shortly thereafter that this was going to take a very long time and further assistance was put in motion.

Not very long thereafter, JNC helicopters based at Virginia had a helicopter in the air in-bound to a location in the Inanda Valley that was easily accessible for all to be briefed in the aerial search.

Virginia Flying School also came forward with an aircraft, this time a fixed wing which would provide overhead surveillance and high level spotting assistance.

2014-01-04 12.55.16

Relaying GPS Co-ordinates to the helicopter

Moments later we had a Robinson R44 on the ground ready to assist in lifting rescue technicians into the mountains.

2014-01-04 13.13.30

R44 on the ground.

Approximately 10 Minutes later, the helicopter had found the scene and was circling overhead to find a suitable place to touch down and drop off the paramedic on board.

Only 40 minutes after the helicopter had touched down did the first of the rescue vehicles make its way upon the scene. Followed by the remaining 2 vehicles a short while later.

The rescuers then had to hike 600 metres down a seriously steep slope to reach the patient, who by now had been lying in the sun for almost 3 hours.

2014-01-04 14.32.37

The scene half way down the slope.

Due to the fading light and the seriousness of the slope it was decided that it may be necessary to airlift the patient off the side of the mountain, and SAPS airwing was contacted.

Initially it was decided that the patient was to be slung underneath the helicopter on a long line, but due to the wind and the pilots discretion, it was decided that a hot load in the hover would be attempted first.


Pilot getting into position for the hot load.

After one trial attempt the pilot came in for a successful pick up on the second attempt and returned to the top of the mountain with the patient on board the machine.

2014-01-04 15.53.07

Helicopter inbound with the patient.

Moments after the helicopter touched down and shut off, the patient was transfered into an awaiting ambulance where he was treated whilst the helicopter did three more trips onto the mountain side to fetch the equipment and rescue crew members.

From there the patient was transported to hospital via road where he was diagnosed with a shattered tibia and fibula as well as a dislocated shoulder and soft tissue injuries.


White Cross Campaign

Thursday 5th September 2013 turned into one nightmare of a night. For both emergency services and families, friends and victims of a horrific motor vehicle collision that left 22 dead and 30 injured.

A run away truck plowed through cars and mini bus taxi’s tearing them open and spreading the occupants over a 100m stretch before coming to rest on top of on of the vehicles involved.

This is the scene that met many paramedics, firefighters and rescue workers that night…

The scene of the collision.

The scene of the collision.

What was left of one of the vehicles...

What was left of one of the vehicles…

Working furiously to free trapped occupants

Working furiously to free trapped occupants


In response to this tragic and unnecessary loss of life on this stretch of road, Rescuetech and its members have launched what they have called “The White Cross Campaign”

What this means, is that on Saturday 14th September, Rescuetech members will do a silent and peaceful protest along the M13 carrying 22 White Crosses, which we will then erect one at a time at the scene in remembrance of each victim that lost their lives on that terrifying night.

white cross

Then, to sustain the impact of this we ask that the public join us with this initiative by making white crosses and placing them along the M13 between the Shongweni exit and Paradise Valley in remembrance of all the lives lost due to trucks on that road.

The appeal goes out to all and everyone who would like to get involved.
Here is what you need to do:
1. Make a wooden cross – any dimension
2. Paint it white
3. Join in the march against trucks on Saturday 14th September 2013
4. Once the march, and the vigil are over leave by exiting onto the M13
5. Find a safe place to stop out of harms way and install the cross in plain view of traffic.

We wish to keep the thought going, and remind drivers every day about the constant carnage on that stretch of road.

Join us, build a cross, make an impression!

white cross

The Bone Yard

There is a very good reason that this well known climbing site in Kloof Gorge is called “the Bone Yard”

Sunday 26 May 2013, a call for assistance comes in at 15:30 in the afternoon. A bunch of climbers have been climbing the routes at Bone Yard, and one of them, a young teenage female has whilst climbing had a fall and the jolt of the rope that caught her fall has caused some muscular and tendon injuries, rendering her in capable of climbing out of the gulley herself…

Fortunately there was a paramedic climbing with them at the time who ascertained that her injuries where not of a serious nature.

The unit dispatched and started assembling at the end of Watsonia road in Kloof, where the access to the Bone Yard is.

Rescuetech members started the journey to the gulley with basic gear to ascertain what sort of rescue we would be dealing with and what the condition of the patient was.

Upon arrival a safety system was set up on the cliff edge and some of the guys started with setting up the rope system to haul our patient out.

It was established that she had lower back and groin injuries that prevented her from walking, so a mechanical haul to the cliff top would be necessary!

Stretcher attached and safety in place, everyone is ready to begin the hauling

Stretcher attached and safety in place, everyone is ready to begin the hauling

With everything attached and ready, and with Luke manning the safety system and cliff edge command the patient could begin her ascent to the top.

Safety lines and Luke sitting on the edge above my position 2 metres below on a ledge

Safety lines and Luke sitting on the edge above my position 2 metres below on a ledge

With myself purchased on a ledge two metres down for the top of the cliff to assist in receiving the basket and medic on the way up and rotating them so that we could lift them over the edge the hauling began.

A little less than 20 minutes later and both paramedic and patient where at the cliff top!!

A short kilometre walk later the patient was at the ambulance ready to be transferred to hospital for further observation.

A little over two hours after arriving we were all packing up and making way to head off home! A job well done and a safe recovery of an injured climber complete.

The young lady remained in hospital over night for observation, and was diagnosed with ligament tears and soft tissue damage. Very fortunate to have gotten off so lightly in a climbing spot known to collect bones…

So… I got Married!

Its been a long time coming… But eventually about a year ago I plucked up enough courage to ask the girl in my life to marry me…

A year later, many hours of frantic planning, late nights making things, tying ribbons, gluing programs etc later the day arrived.

Welcome to the morning of the 7th April, 2013… and onwards…


Sunrise in Ballito on the morning

Sunrise in Ballito on the morning

The sing post that I put some hours into making for the reception area.


The sign post to the venue

Underneath the Pergola we decided to have some fun around where tea and cake woudl be served and add to the atmosphere by including wedding photo’s from our guests as a talking point.


Suitcase full of wedding photos.


Gift table arrangement, with the Safe for gift cards that I found dated 1888 on the face plate.

040 seating plan

The seating plan, keeping with the theme of Elegant travel


The cake and the toppers, creatively created by my gorgeous wife herself. Included are our two hounds, who couldn’t be left out of the day, even though they couldn’t be there.


My Brother and I waiting for guests to arrive.


Arrival of the Bride


Leaving the chapel afterwards.


As per the deal, i was allowed to remove my tie after the chapel, so off it came

061 posing for photo's

Some much needed couch time, on the lawn of the venue.


Grooms family picture.


Photo with all the siblings. And in true style my brother being his normal fool around self…

From this point the day progressed into the reception and proceedings. So let the fun and games begin…

My Brother doing his speech.

My Brother doing his speech.

Father of the bride doing his speech

Father of the bride doing his speech

Father Daughter Dance, breaking tradition and doing that before the first dance

Father Daughter Dance, breaking tradition and doing that before the first dance

Displaying my story about tying a knot during my speech

Displaying my story about tying a knot during my speech

The DJ Table's decorations

The DJ Table’s decorations

Our First Dance to Dave Matthew's Band - You and Me

Our First Dance to Dave Matthew’s Band – You and Me

Then it begins... The groomsmen get together

Then it begins… The groomsmen get together

Into the Photo Booth we go and thats the end of all sanity

Into the Photo Booth we go and thats the end of all sanity

Time to leave... Sparkler send off

Time to leave… Sparkler send off

Off we go, in a 1977 Series 3 Short Wheel base Land Rover

Off we go, in a 1977 Series 3 Short Wheel base Land Rover

What a day it was… A lot of fun, and a lot of love…


Only thing we would have changed is that it wasn’t over so quickly…


Down The Drain…

There is no operations message quite like one that says “urgent assistance required for puppies stuck in a drain”

That was the line that caught my eye on Sunday 27th January 2013 when my phone went off.

The location of the said incident was less than 2km away from my house, so naturally I was dead keen to get out there and have a look at the situation.

I few moments later that was exactly what I was doing.. Mobile through Phoenix in the northern suburbs of Durban to the address supplied to find out what we have on out hands.

Arriving at the address I notice twi guys digging in the front yard of this house, looking rather disturbed. So i get out my car and walk over, and suddenly their whole expression changes. Boy are they stoked to see someone in rescue gear arrive.

What we have is two spaniel puppies that have been nudged into the pipe by their mother, but the pipe has a rather steep fall on in it, and they have slid and crawled down this pipe somewhere deep under ground.

Moments after making a phone call back to the ops manager to report on the situation, Piet pulls up and runs over and jumps the fence. We have a quick discussion as to whats going on and then we decide to dig like our lives depended on it until the rest of the crew arrive.

Piet getting stuck in furiously

Piet getting stuck in furiously

Not much longer after we had half destroyed these chaps garden Mark arrives on scene to give us a hand and grabs a pick himself and starts to dig away.

Eventually we have 5 rescue technicians working away like crazy on the earth moving to expose the drain pipe. All the time stopping to listen to the pups which we can hear whimpering away somewhere inside the pipe.

Mark carefully cutting inspection slots into the pipe as we work down

Mark carefully cutting inspection slots into the pipe as we work down

Not much later, well an hour and half after myself and Piet started the operation we located the two pups. They were trapped in an elbow bend where two pipes joined each other.

With some more frantic digging and engineering we managed to separate the two pipes from each other.

First puppy spotted inside the pipe while Piet tries to carefully extract the little guy

First puppy spotted inside the pipe while Piet tries to carefully extract the little guy

About 5 minutes in total before both pups were out the pipe. Both very cold and dehydrated, but seemingly in good health for there 6 hour ordeal.

Pup out and in good hands.

Pup out and in good hands.

Second pup getting handed over to Mark to have a quick once over.

Second pup getting handed over to Mark to have a quick once over.

With both puppies out and doing well we had a quick look at the landscaping we had managed to do in an hour. Surveyed the scene one last time and then all jumped in our cars and left… Just in time to make it to the Afcon 2013 game at Moses Mabhida stadium.

The trench we dug to eventually free the puppies from the pipe.

The trench we dug to eventually free the puppies from the pipe.




Heart sinking moments!

No sooner had I posted a new post on Friday about a rescue turned recovery that impacted the lives of everyone in our unit, a call comes in for s frighteningly similar scenario!

Sunday night, 11 November 2012… 20:55, ops message comes through.

“who is available for a search and possible rescue of a family that went out mountain biking and has not returned? There are kids etc involved.”

I instantly respond, and get kitted up, fill up my kamelbak and pack my gear into my boot. Give my dogs each a scratch and kiss the fiance before rushing out the door.

I hit the freeway under lights and sirens and the magnitude of what we dealing with suddenly sinks in… My mind just does a complete flip and my heart sinks… I silently say to my self, “Fuck me, I don’t want to carry kids out tonight!”

Mulling over the extent the search could end up being, not knowing where they went riding and for how long they been out, I bash my way through traffic on the freeway.

Then, my phone vibrates in my pocket. (cant hear it over the siren)

I dig it out, and there it is…

“All members stand down! Family has been found safe”

I get a smile on my face, turn my siren off, and take the next off ramp and double back, still travelling under lights I cruise back towards home…

Drive into the driveway a few minutes later, and walk inside to “Why you back?”

“cause they been found safe…”

“Bet you glad that it turned out that way hey?”

Damn straight I am… Heart sunk… Worst case scenario went round and round my head… So glad it ended before it even started!

I find out today, that the information we were sent was incorrect as well. It was one adult and his child out quad biking, they had mechanical failure and weren’t carrying cell phones!

A Day that will live in Infamy…

I will never forget this day for as long as I may live, the memory of that weekend is ingrained in my mind!

The day was Sunday, February 13, 2011… I particularly warm Sunday in KZN, also the same day that the JHB U2 360 tour concert was to take place.

Monday being February 14, Valentines day… A day that I had planned to make memorable in every way, with my cute girlfriend in JHB for the U2 concert and myself still in Durban, I decided that the plan was to break into her flat and decorate it so that when she arrived back on Monday it would be this magical surprise… Well that was the theory!

I spent most of Saturday after I dropped her off at the Airport organising things and planning stuff. Sunday morning I decided to shoot up to PMB to my folks for the day and grab a few more of the items I needed for Monday…

Anyway, as it turned out, that Sunday afternoon while packing my car, my phone goes with a message asking who is available for a possible rescue in Hammarsdale, to look for a missing off road biker. So I respond that I’m probably the closest by a long shot as I’m in PMB, so will respond from there.

A few moments later an update comes through with GPS co-ordinates of the location and I quickly plot them on my GPS and have a look at the area. Its HILLS!!

A minute later my goes again, saying please all meet at Hillcrest shell, we will dispatch from there. I reply saying I will meet at the JOC in Hammarsdale and grab all my gear and head off.

Arriving at the JOC, which was chosen to be the local meeting point for riders at the bottom of Key Ridge, I am met by a whole lot of distressed looking off road motocyclists, as well as the medical director or VEMA, the organisation that we were a subsidiary of at that particular time.

I then come across some disturbing information, while collecting bits and pieces from the riders and others… The time now is 15:30, the call for assistance went out at 14:10… The rider went missing from his group of bikes at…. 10:30 approximately… Its been 4 hours and 10 minutes before the alarm was raised and a further hour before we were assembled…

The other information that has come through is this. The bike has been found lying against an ant hill, but the rider is no where to be found, they assume he is concust from the fall and wondering around dazed in this approximate area.

The rest of the team assemble at the JOC and instinctively grab gear and personal equipment and start to get ready. We then all jump into vehicles again and head out to the GPS co-ordinates given.

We arrive at the point to find a Robinnson R44 helicopter in the road and ambulances and a few people milling about. The pilot of the R44 has come out to offer his assistance to the search, however the downside to this that the rider that is missing’s good friend will not get out of the helicopter, so it severely restrict the use of the machine having someone with absolutely no search and rescue expertise in the front seat scanning the terrain. The pilot informs us of the area we need to search in and explains to us how to get there, and once again we all climb in vehicles and move to another location. By now people are getting irritable and edgy, and when we try set up a command post to co-ordinate the scene from we get shouted at and told to hurry up and get out there and stop wasting time.

Yes we are running out of Daylight hours… and yes we have taken almost an hour more to get to the location… But a good co-ordination post is vital to a successful rescue!

Arriving at the correct point we try to set up a command post

Shortly there after I climb aboard the helicopter while the other guys work out what equipment is needed and where to begin the operation. I take a short flight around the area to gather further GPS co-ordinates and hopefully triangulate a search area, as well as maybe pick up some vital information from the air… And that I did… Not even 3 minutes into the flight I notice something white on the side of a slope that didn’t quite fit the surroundings, and there it was, a helmet! Instantly narrow down the search area, i had a GPS point for the helmet, one for where the bike was found, and I took a third point at random to develop a triangle to load a search area on the map.

Arriving back at the guys I give them the news about what has been found.

Me explaining what I have found in the air to the people in command

We put Mark into the helicopter with a rope bag and some gear to be inserted into the position I have worked out as the most logical to begin from.

Guys getting their gear together

We then work out an order. Myself, Piet and Tasha will walk in with gear. Muff and Nic G will fly in, Muff is to be dropped at the top of the cliff and Nic G in the river below to climb up from the bottom. Damian will come in last to the top with the SKED and some more equipment.

Discussing the order of events

Once the order is arranged, everyone is told to get their gear together and group for the insertion plan.

Grouped for insertion, everyone with the gear assigned to them ready to go!

Myself and Piet load all of our gear in the ER24 rescue vehicle and jump on the bumper.

Grabbing a ride on the ER24 MR vehicle as far as we can down the hillside

Once we got as far as we could go, we walked the remainder of the way on foot. About another 3km to the top of the cliff where I had mapped the location to start the search. On the way down the hillside we were met by the young riders father, who wished to accompany us to the search area. Its not something that we generally allow, but since we had been pushed and rushed we weren’t about to argue.

We got to the site and set up a rope abseil so that Mark and the Mannie from SAPS search and rescue could abseil down and look along the ledges on the way down.  Its now almost 17:30 by the time the abseil has been put in place and daylight hours are diminishing rapidly!

Damian manning the top of the abseil. Already passed 17:30 with tensions rising as daylight vanished.

The next thing that happened is the part that will stick in my mind forever… Myself and Piet, sitting at the top not doing all that much decided to take a walk along the path that we could see and have a look from another direction. With us is a local youngster who is walking along as well. This chap climbs down a ledge of about 2 metres and then looks up and says, I think I see him.

My heart Jumps! I yell back to Damian to get me a rope, Im going to assess what I can find.

Climbing down the rocks to the level below, turn and give Piet a hand, faintly through the bushes on the ledge we can see what looks like a white boot! We start the mad dash through the bushes climbing over trees and through torn shrubs for what seemed like hours to travel the 15 metres along the ledge… And yes… There he was! Lying under a sheltered lip on the ledge, with one leg bent at the knee and his arms folded across his chest. I rush over to him, having found our missing biker…

He is looking rather pale, so i yell up to Damian that I have found him, I need assistance! He must get the guys from the bottom up, so that we can start with the rest of the rescue.

Damian yells back to me, “whats his status?!”

I had just assessed his condition…

I yell back, “P4!”

Unfortunately… The worst part of finding our missing rider was the part of finding him already deceased!

Second to that, was climbing back up to the top to gather the right equipment to start with a recovery, and ascending the top and meeting his father face to face, and him staring at me and asking, “Whats P4? What does that mean?”

And I looked at him softly and said, “Unfortunately it means that he wont be coming home tonight, and I’m really sorry about that…”

The rest of what happened that night was the toughest extrication and recovery I have ever dealt with… Not only because there was a 21 year old youngster who’s father was waiting for him at the time we found him, but also because over and above the emotional impact that had, we had no other assistance other than the 6 of us to haul this guy out!

Myself and Piet resigned ourselves to setting up the hauling system to lift the body up and over the first ledge and through the thick bushes to the path where we could then carry him out. The rest of the guys were down belong packaging into the SKED.

It was now already dark and all of us working under headlight in a terrain that was really unstable! Rocks were being dislodged by the ropes as the tension changed and rolling down the scree face at the guys below. Every few minutes one of us would yell, “BELOW!!” indicating that a rock was on its way…

Before we start with the haul, Muff climbs back up to the top to give us a hand, on the way up he comes eye to eye level with a green snake chilling on a branch of a tree… He says to us, “Fuck! Guys! there is a snake here!!”

We pack up laughing and Piet replies to him, “Stare it down Muff! Stare it down!” to which we get, “Fuck off! I’m out of here! and he somehow rockets past the tree and land right next to me!

The little bit of comic relief puts a renewed spirit into everyone and we continue with the task.

19:20, and we have hauled the body to the path and are organising a plan to carry the remaining 4.2km to the where the vehicles are…

Those 4.2 kilometers took us three and half hours to complete… We had to swap out carrying every couple hundred metres, and rotate positions on the SKED. Climb over rocks and up these ledges.

It was the longest most arduous walk ever!

Finally at around 22:45 we see headlights and people!! We have gotten to the top!!

We hand over the deceased the SAPS members and the detectives that have now arrived, and leave them to sort out the rest…

A short debriefing was held, with a formal debrief to be arranged at a later stage, and we were all given the all clear to leave the scene…

I finally arrived home at 23:35, and then had to put my plan into action or the following day!

I got into bed at about 2 am the following morning!

For weeks after the incident both myself and Piet battled to come to terms with our finding that day… We just couldn’t get that image out of our heads… It compelled us to attend the victims’ memorial service for that final bit of closure, and for us to realise that it was really beyond our control what happened that day…

The part that touched us, was the absolute random people that came up to us after the service and thanked us for going out there and putting time into finding him and bringing him back… People who didn’t know us, who we didn’t know… but who were thankful for the service we gave that day… Was a touching moment!

R.I.P Paul Hunt… The day I met you will never be forgotten!