Man jumps to his death

2009-01-02 00:00

“We tried to help him, it was terrible. We didn’t manage to … it was tragic — especially for his family,” said Allan Durandt, a shop-owner at the Quarry centre in Hilton just moments after the body of a 24-year-old Hilton resident was recovered yesterday from the water below.

It is suspected Scott Thomson was killed when he hit the water too hard after diving from the quarry wall during a game.

Thomson allegedly dived into the quarry from below the deck of Latino’s, a restaurant at the centre. As he made this final leap, his peers — including his girlfriend and brother — were videoing the jump. When he did not surface from the water after about five minutes, his friends frantically searched for help.

Mariske Fisher, an employee at Forsyth Jewellers, witnessed the incident. “We were out having a smoke break at the deck and we saw the two guys running past and even greeted them,” she said.

“We thought they were just helping the girl back over the fence or something … They jumped off once so we thought they’d be fine the second time.

“They were taking pictures and then suddenly we heard the girl screaming ‘David, David, help, help!’ … So I ran there, took my shoes off, [and] I was going to jump. But when I saw the trees and rocks below, I decided not to … when we couldn’t find him, I ran to Latino’s to call a paramedic.”

Fisher said that when she failed to see the body, she asked Durandt and his son to help. “We were looking for 45 minutes and then the son said it was too dark to see anything in the water,” she added.

Durandt said they could only see about two metres into the water, but could not see the body at all. His son, Michael, said: “We tried our best. We searched everywhere … It’s horrible. I feel bad for the family. We really did all we could to help.”

Said Lesley Downham, manager at Latino’s, “Nobody in the restaurant saw anything … Someone came running to the door looking terribly distressed, asking me for help, so we phoned the paramedics.”

When Netcare paramedics arrived at the scene, according to spokesman Chris Botha, they realised that there was “nothing much [they] could do because the body was submerged for so long”. They immediately contacted the police.

Inspector Jack Haskins of the SAPS search and rescue unit said Thomson was probably killed by the impact of the water. “We suspect that his chest or back hit the water in a strange way and the gases in his body escaped — which is what caused him to sink.

“It was one of the more difficult recoveries that we’ve had to make … the body wasn’t very deep … but it took us around 30 minutes to recover him,” he added.

An inquest will be held to determine the cause of death.

Botha said Netcare has seen many drownings like this and that people should not attempt to jump from high places into water. “People don’t know what is beneath the water … if a jump goes wrong, it can leave you paralysed, seriously injured or dead.”

Family and friends at the scene declined to comment, as did the centre management.

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