SA-born man dies of thirst in Outback

2012-11-07 11:30

Sydney - A 25-year-old South African-born man died and another was recovering in hospital on Wednesday after they became stranded in the harsh Australian Outback, prompting warnings about the risks of the desert.

The pair had been on a routine morning check of a spring near Ethabuka cattle station, near the Simpson Desert in southeast Queensland state, on Monday when their four-wheel-drive vehicle became bogged on a sand dune.

As temperatures soared to 45° and they failed to free the vehicle, the men attempted to walk the 16km back.

Mauritz 'Mo' Pieterse, aged 25, collapsed several kilometres from the station, while his 30-year-old colleague was reportedly found in a distressed state, suffering from extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion.

"When they were found, they had insufficient water supplies with them and obviously dehydration crept in very quickly," police Inspector Paul Biggin said.

Stock up

The survivor was airlifted to safety after being found by residents of a neighbouring property.

Biggin said the death highlighted the need for those travelling in Australia's vast, remote areas to carry a good supply of water at all times and a means to communicate.

"It would appear, on the circumstances, there have been a number of mistakes made and as I said unfortunately one young man has lost his life," he said.

"Regardless of whether you are working or travelling - make sure you stock up on plenty of water and have communications. Everyone is susceptible to those high range temperatures that we have in summer."

The two men were conservationists working for Bush Heritage, an organisation that protects Australia's unique animals, plants and habitats.

  • siphobongohead - 2012-11-07 15:06

    Really sad.

  • junior.mahlo.9 - 2012-11-07 16:23

    my condolences to the family and friends. I know the pain of losing someone you love, may God be with you

  • rocky.bell.5 - 2012-11-07 19:08

    They can only blame themselves. Living in this unforgiving area and making such a crucial mistake is total ignorance. It is a world renowned fact that the Oz Outback is only for those who know what they’re doing - professionals. How many lives have been lost? It is said that DOZENS of people die in the outback EVERY year. Plenty water, good vehicle, satellite communication, survival kits etc etc. are of VITAL importance. The mere fact they did not even had the most basic survival component with them, WATER, is mind boggling. Never the less: condolences to the family – a sad day indeed.

  • goldwright - 2012-11-07 20:20

    16km's, doesn't sound that far to "walk back" but caught unawares, without water/adequate communication, it certainly puts the extreme nature of the Outback into perspective. Did they take it for granted that they'd manage if something did happen, or was just it a slip up, a tragic error of judgement not being prepared, or were they in a comfort zone and thought nothing would happen? Whatever the case, sad for the young man who lost his life and his family/friends. Maybe though, such an occurence will be a lesson in future for others not to take the Outback lightly.

      littlegiantn - 2012-11-08 07:53

      Walking 16 Km in sand is like walking 50 Km or more on a normal road. And with elevated temperatures, an almost mission impossible.....

  • Tello Moleko - 2012-11-07 21:45

    is someone death a joke?why talk about coke machine and bells?look at yo family now nd think of that day in your house coz that day is coming

  • paul.moal.7 - 2012-11-07 22:19

    Read the full story

  • Partiboy - 2012-11-08 09:25

    Bear Gryls Ultimate Survival wasn't watched that morning... RIP

  • Msika - 2012-11-08 10:00

    Only in Australia. May his soul RIP.

  • klaus.broszeit.1 - 2012-11-08 10:37

    the logical thing to do is to load or trail a small 50 cc bike behind so when getting stuck one can always get out. As bush rangers they should know better.

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