Tourists airlifted from Table Mountain

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mountain rescue 2 INLSA David Thomas from USA brought down by helicopter. Picture Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Two hiking tourists were airlifted off Table Mountain in separate incidents after the sweltering heat got the better of them on Tuesday.

The South African Weather Service recorded a high of 31ºC in the City Bowl at noon while temperatures as high as 41ºC were recorded elsewhere in the province.

In the first incident, David Thomas, 69, from Chicago was treated for dehydration after fainting near the top of Platteklip Gorge.

“My wife and I started walking around 10.30 and when we got to about 100m from the top of the gorge I started going slower because I was feeling drained,” said Thomas, who has summited the 6 194m Mount McKinley in Alaska.

Speaking from inside an ambulance shortly after being airlifted, he said: “Eventually I decided to sit down and I must’ve fainted because the next thing I remember is my wife calling out my name. I gathered my strength and got up a few times to try and walk to the top but eventually I realised I wouldn’t make it.”

Thomas’s wife flagged down fellow hikers, one of whom had a cellphone and called emergency services.

mountain rescue Emergency services airlift Chicago tourist David Thomas, 69, from Platteklip Gorge to the foot of Table Mountain where he was treated for dehydration after fainting while hiking. Pictures: BRENTON GEACH INLSA

The hikers helped Thomas to a shaded area until the paramedics arrived. He was later transported to the Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital.

In the second incident, a German tourist, Hartmut Pütterich, was airlifted after his daughter went in search of him and found him sitting in pain near a stream on the Bakoven side of the mountain.

“He had been walking quite slowly all day and we agreed my fiancé and I would walk ahead and he would walk at his own pace.

When we got to the top I called him and everything seemed fine but I decided to check on him to be sure. When I got to him he complained of a pain that was coming from his neck. I was also afraid something might be wrong with his heart,” said Pütterich’s daughter, Stefanie.

Pütterich was treated by paramedics for low blood-pressure and mild dehydration before heading back to his hotel.

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