Taylor was burdened by guilt, friends reveal

2011-01-12 00:00

CAPE Town police have positively identified the man found dead on Table Mountain on Sunday afternoon as Hilton property developer and philanthropist Rob Taylor.

Police spokesperson Captain Ezra October said two relatives arrived at the police station on Monday, spoke to the investigating officer and left.

“Late on Monday night the relatives contacted the investigating officers to say they were ready to identify the body. They were escorted to the government mortuary where they positively identified their [relative],” said October.

According to witnesses who were on Table Mountain on Sunday, Taylor ascended in the cable car late on Sunday afternoon.

Once at the top he took off his backpack and, arms outstretched, jumped.

More details emerged yesterday that may give insight into Taylor’s state of mind.

In 2006, he was present when a child, Clinton Aupias, went overboard from a boat and drowned in Midmar Dam.

A friend, Brigette Delport, said this had a deep impact on Taylor.

“He felt responsible for the boy’s death and I think to anybody such an incident would have a devastating impact.

“I met with him after the accident and he was extremely disturbed,” said Delport.

Taylor was a skydiving enthusiast who bought a farm in Eston and turned it into Angels’ Way Skydiving Club.

In 2009, two accidents occurred within two weeks at Angels’ Way, which also disturbed him.

In the first, a student skydiver sustained second degree electrical burns when her parachute was entangled in power lines after a free-fall jump.

In the second, Hymne Cajeux of Durban died after she reportedly activated her parachute too low for it to open properly.

“All these had a terrible impact on Rob. It seems as if he was blaming himself for these tragedies and he was living with guilt and had a huge burden on his shoulders,” said Delport.

A close friend who did not want to be named said: “Rob was a greatly misunderstood person. He ruffled some — in fact many — feathers in our community with the way he did things and bumped heads with many of us old-school skydivers with some stupid stuff that put him and others at risk.

“He made financial and personal commitments to aviation that you will never be aware of, and aviation in South Africa is poorer at his passing. He was a very spiritual person and very few people would understand him.”

Another friend commenting on a social network said Taylor was a “big fanatic” for skydiving and base jumping (off mountains or buildings with a parachute).

“So he planned for a year to do this ‘ultimate jump’ off Table Mountain. A jump that would give him an outer body and mind experience,” wrote the user.

Attempts to get hold of relatives were unsuccessful.

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