Man survives 60m plunge

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nm kloof rescue 18 Chris Botha Paramedic Gary Paul abseils into the gorge to reach the man, who fell from the viewing platform in high winds. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad and Chris Botha/Netcare 911

Durban - A Durban man who was badly injured in a 60m plunge from a viewing point in Kloof Gorge was airlifted to Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital on Sunday, much to the relief of his family, bystanders and a contingent from five rescue units.

The alarm was raised when Bruce Cunningham, 46, of Waterfall, could not be reached after leaving home at around 7.30am and was reported missing.

His cellphone was traced by the community policing organisation SA CAN (SA Community Action Network) to within 600m of where he had fallen. He had fractured his legs and pelvis.

Firemen from Pinetown and Gillitts began shouting Cunningham’s name above the roar of the wind into the gorge below.

Derrick Banks, spokesman for ER24, said he responded with a faint call for help. Banks said it was possible that Cunningham had lost his balance on the viewing deck because of the blustery conditions.

Paramedics, the SAPS search and rescue unit and the volunteer group Rescue Tech were lowered along the edge of the viewing point.

Cunningham was sedated, placed in a special rescue stretcher and hoisted out of the gorge on a 100m line. He was then lowered and carried to a helicopter that airlifted him to hospital.

Banks confirmed that despite his broken bones and dehydration, he was in a stable condition.

“Great team work and communication among all the services made this a successful rescue,” he said. - The Mercury

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