Cape Town - A German man who crashed into Lion’s Head with his paraglider on Tuesday afternoon died from his injuries in hospital in the early hours of Wednesday.
Paramedics had rushed to his aid after the accident, providing advanced life support on site, after which he was airlifted by helicopter by the Western Cape Department of Health EMS / Air Mercy Service (AMS) to Groote Schuur Hospital.
Emergency services, including City Emergency Medical Service (EMS), SAPS Rescue, Mountain Club of South Africa (MSAR), SARZA Western Cape, Wilderness Search and Rescue Resources (WSAR) and ER24, also assisted in the rescue effort.
ER24 communications officer Russel Meiring said: “Medics found the man wedged between two large rocks, being tended to by bystanders. He had sustained severe injuries to his head and was in a critical condition.
“He was treated and provided with advanced life support interventions before he was airlifted to Groote Schuur Hospital for urgent care.”
Getting the patient down from the mountain proved very technical, WSAR spokesperson, David Nel, said.
“A small WSAR team on board the rescue helicopter was flown to the accident site and hoisted down to the patient.
“He was placed on to a stretcher, and short-hauled from the scene, together with the rescuers. The shorthaul technique involves hanging the rescue team from a purpose-made strop, or rope, from under the helicopter, for a short distance.”
Police spokesperson FC Van Wyk confirmed that Woodstock police were investigating an inquest case and that the 47-year-old foreign national died at a nearby hospital at 5am on Wednesday after being involved in a paragliding incident.
South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (Sahpa) chairperson Louis Stanford said the German was a solo recreational pilot and a member of SAHPA, which is bound by the Civil Aviation Act and associated regulation.
Stanford said paragliding and hang-gliding were considered high-risk sports and explained that Lion's Head was a challenging site. New pilots required briefings from senior pilots to undertake the iconic site.
Sahpa has a webpage dedicated to requirements, weather conditions, safety precautions, launch and landing notes to assist pilots taking on Lion’s Head.
“Paraglider and hang-glider pilots in South Africa are required to undergo a training programme to qualify for their National Pilots Licence. Once the requirements are met, licences are issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority,” Stanford said.
“The reason for this accident is unknown, but will be investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority,” Stanford said.
ARCC chief Gregory Critchley said: “We wish to thank all health practitioners, specialist rescue personnel, as well as organisations that responded and assisted in this complex and demanding rescue operation. Our thoughts are with the paraglider and his family during this difficult time.”