Cape Town - In a daring rescue, a helicopter descended into a deep ravine in the Jonkershoek Mountains in Stellenbosch on Friday to airlift a hiker who had broken several bones in a fall.
A team from Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) spent the night under the spray of Second Waterfall Ravine with Ivan Pauw, 20, a Stellenbosch University student, after they were dispatched on Thursday evening. They found him after a search of about two hours and stabilised him at the scene.
"Words cannot describe how grateful I am," his mother, Karien, told Netwerk24 on Sunday. "All praises to the rescue team who put their own lives on the line to save him."
Ivan is currently recovering in the Stellenbosch Mediclinic.
The WSAR team rigged a rescue system to get Pauw to a more accessible place for the AMS helicopter to hoist him out.
The search started on Thursday evening at 20:00 when Pauw failed to return from his hike.
According to Johan Marais from WSAR, officials from the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve found Pauw's car when the reserve was closing for the night, and saw his route and his emergency contact numbers displayed on the dashboard. That made it easier for the WSAR team, lead by Donny Dunn, to find him.
He had fallen 10m - 20m, Marais said.
"We gave him a light anaesthetic for the pain and moved him to a more comfortable spot and kept him warm," Dr Matthew Young told Netwerk24.
He was finally hoisted out of Second Waterfall Ravine at about 11:30 on Friday morning.
Ivan himself had high praise for his rescuers.
"If it weren't for those guys, I would not have been alive," he told Netwerk24. "The rescue was very impressive. I actually wanted to help them but I couldn't move. You should have seen the chopper move into that tight squeeze!"
His mother said he was operated on on Friday and the recovery process would be long and slow.