Rescue services save German tourist in Graskop, Mpumalanga
On Wednesday afternoon, 21 August 2019, a female German tourist, identified as Bianca Müller, aged 31, fell down a steep slope at Lisbon Falls in Graskop, Mpumalanga. She was trying to take a picture and her camera fell off the rock she had placed it. As she reached after the camera she lost her balance and fell. About 40 metres down the slope a tree branch arrested her fall. Off Road Rescue Unit (ORRU) was mobilised at 16h55 on Wednesday afternoon and six of their members responded to the scene, which is 102km from Nelspruit. The first members arrived on scene at 18h02 and immediately started identifying anchor points and putting rope access in place. Dr Scheepers and Danie Theron were the first members to proceed down the slope to the patient. They secured her in a sling harness and Dr Scheepers assessed her injuries. It was evident that she had a fractured clavicle and possible fractures to her ribs and one leg. She was in a significant amount of pain and getting quite cold.
At the topside the rest of the team so long rigged up a hauling system and took a Stokes rescue basket down to the patient. The patient was very carefully transferred into the Stokes basket under quite difficult circumstances. The patient was hauled about three metres to a more stable location so that Dr Scheepers could inject her with some morphine to help with her significant pain levels.
The team then slowly and carefully proceeded to haul the patient up the slope whilst navigating large rocks and dangerous terrain on the way up. The patient was safely handed over to paramedics at 21h02 and transported to Kiaat Private Hospital by ambulance.
The rescue of the German was captured on film. Deon de Bruyn, from the Graskop Conservancy, could not believe his ears when Bianca Müller’s companion alerted him to her having fallen between 30 to 40 metres. She was lucky to escape the ordeal with only a few fractures after being trapped in the ravine for five hours.
De Bruyn was taking a video of birds from the opposite side to where Müller fell. “I was busy filming when I saw the woman, accompanied by a male companion, stepping onto the cliff. It appears as though the couple were trying to take a selfie with a GoPro camera when it fell. She reached for the camera, lost her footing and slipped.”
“The side of the cliff from which she fell is a sheer drop, but her husband was with her all the time while about 30 rescue personnel worked tirelessly to get her to safety,” De Bruyn said. “It is a miracle she survived.”
The point from where she fell was unsafe and the rescue was conducted from a higher position, about 70 metres above where Müller landed.
Source: Off Road Rescue Unit and The Lowvelder