Accident: Hiker slips 80 metres from top of Thukela Falls

2008-07-23 00:00

A YOUNG man from Harrismith plunged to his death at the Thukela Falls, the second highest falls in the world, yesterday morning.

Luan Carter (19) slipped on the top of the falls and fell about 80 metres. The falls, which are in an uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site in northern KwaZulu-Natal, are 947 m high, second only to Angel Falls in Venezuela.

Carter died of head and internal injuries after he slipped while admiring the view. He had spent the night on top of the Amphitheatre with friends.

Inspector Jack Haskins of the Pietermaritzburg K9 Search and Rescue Unit was among those who recovered Carter’s body.

“We started the search at about 10.10 am and finished at about 12.30 pm. The recovery was fairly difficult because there was ice,” said Haskins.

He said his unit was alerted by a group of Durban University of Technology paramedic students who were at the falls to practise.

This group, who were not with Carter’s group, were first to reach the body.

“The rescue was a joint operation between the students, SAPS from Durban and Pietermaritzburg, our rescue unit and the Red Cross,” said Haskins.

Following the accident, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesman Jeff Gaisford reissued a warning to hikers to watch where they walk, especially if there is ice in the mountains.

“Such accidents happen, although not often. About a month ago, a young man from Britain fell. There is nothing we can do to prevent the accident from happening except to warn people to be careful,” said Gaisford.

The Carter family were not speaking to the media yesterday.

In May, Steven Hird (18) from Britain was injured when he fell 20 metres in the Berg.

Gavin Raubenheimer of the Mountain Club of SA Search and Rescue Team said his team, which was not part of yesterday’s operation, conducts about eight rescues a year in the area of the accident.

“It is very normal for the area to be icy at this time of the year because the area is very cold,” said Raubenheimer.

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