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Hilton College will be reviewing its future excursions after double tragedy struck the prestigious boys’ school this week.
The school’s annual Outward Bound trip came to an abrupt halt on Friday after one of the pupils died and another suffered serious injuries, forcing doctors to amputate his arm.
The group of 10 boys and two adults were hiking in the Drakensberg as part of the leadership excursion when tragedy struck.
The excursion was cut short yesterday when Chris Loxton died after he suffered multiple seizures on Thursday afternoon. He was taken to hospital but died early on Friday morning.
School principal Peter Ducasse said a decision was taken to evacuate the Grade 9 pupil from the mountains after receiving specialist medical advice.
An ambulance was sent from Underberg to collect Chris to take him to a hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
“He was accompanied in the ambulance by two paramedics. During the ambulance transfer, Chris suffered repeated seizures and his condition deteriorated to such an extent that the medical team was unable to save him,” said Ducasse.
Earlier in the week Grade 9 pupil Xilombe Tlakula suffered serious injuries when a boulder fell on him in the Cathedral Peak area.
It was during the group’s second day of hiking.
It took rescuers more than four hours to reach the 14-year-old pupil who had to have his right arm amputated below the elbow.
He is recovering at Albert Luthuli hospital.
The school’s director of marketing, Paul Guthrie, said Tlakula was in a stable condition when he visited him. “He’s recovering,” he said.
The group of boys and teachers returned to school on Friday.
“Yes, indeed,” said Guthrie when asked if the school would review its future excursion of such a nature.
As far as the school knew, Loxton had no previous medical conditions, adding that the school would hold a memorial service for him.
The school, said Ducasse, was “completely” stunned by the two tragic events in as many days.
“It is in this darkest hour that I call upon the entire Hilton College family to pull together to love, support and comfort the Loxton family,” he said.
“His untimely death has left us all absolutely shocked and devastated.”
Ducasse described Loxton as a happy and well-integrated pupil. “We offer up our heartfelt condolences to Chris’s parents, Stuart and Debbie, and to his brother Nicholas, on their tragic loss.
“Words which adequately describe our sense of loss escape me, but I know that you will all join me in holding them up in prayer at this time.”
The school has arranged for immediate counselling for the boys and staff. - Independent on Saturday