Yesterday evening I was near the top of Platteklip Gorge on Table Mountain when I saw someone fall to his death.
It was an insane moment. I almost literally didn’t believe what I had seen.
It was a little after 5PM and I was about 10 minutes from the top when I heard what sounded like rocks falling above me. I looked up and saw a person tumbling through the air and landing with a very load crack about 100m up the slope from me.
A few more rocks fell, some birds went nuts, and then there was just silence.
There was another hiker just down the slope from me and we looked at each other for a second.
He said: “Did you see that?”
I said “What the fuck! Holy shit!” and then we both started walking upwards.
The body landed about 3m from the path but I missed it the first time (luckily it wasn’t easily visible). The result was that the other guy (Michael, a British tourist) and I arrived at the body simultaneously.
It was a surreal moment.
I knew what I was seeing. It did sink in. I’d just seen someone fall to his death and the injuries were truly horrific.
But we were both very calm. No freaking out, no puking or feeling sick. No shakes, or stuttering. Just calm.
I pulled out my phone to call mountain rescue but had no signal so another hiker who had just arrived called from his phone.
Then we just sat down to wait.
I became worried that he was still alive and we weren’t helping, so I went back to check his pulse. I didn’t need to check. His injuries were very extensive and he was very obviously already dead.
A while later two people leaned over the top of the cliff and started shouting down to us. They said that they had found a backpack and a suicide note. That actually made me feel a lot better.
A little later the mountain rescue chopper flew up into the gorge and winched down a medic. I went to help him with his kit and showed him where the body was.
“Victim is blue. Repeat, victim is blue.”
Without going into details, the mountain rescue guy (also named Mike) was extremely professional and took over the scene. He radioed in for more assistance and offered us trauma counselling before sending us all down the mountain.
All of the emergency services guys were very professional and seemed very organised. It’s great having pro’s like that around.
The only exception was that nobody could find a body bag. It was already quite dark and the evening wind had started pumping down Platteklip so the chopper couldn’t go back in there. Consequently they weren’t able to bring him down until morning.
I’ve chatted to the cops this morning and it seems that this was a desperately unhappy old man who was determined to end his life.