Helicopter rescuers find missing cyclist waving from boulder in Garden Route forest after two day search
An exhausted mountain-biker was found alive and rescued to safety, after a massive search lasting almost 48 hours.
The search unfolded in the Garden Route from Saturday, 3 December 2022, when more than 50 search and rescue members combed the area, coordinated by Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR). Eventually, the MTB-rider was found almost two full days later, in a remote river gorge. He was then airlifted by the Western Cape Department of Health EMS / Air Mercy Service (AMS) rescue helicopter from Oudtshoorn.
The search was mobilised when a Gauteng mountain-biker, Alan Broderick, was dropped off by his wife to ride Persus-se-Brand forested MTB trail network between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. The trails include the Diepwalle section of the Knysna forest, characterised by steep descents, great scenery and a river crossing.
After Broderick failed to return by Saturday evening, he was reported missing to the South African Police Service (SAPS). WSAR Garden Route mobilised an immediate search, comprising multiple state services and volunteers, lasting deep into Saturday night.
The search continued on Sunday and again on Monday, including teams of trail runners, hikers, mountain-bikers, motorbike-riders and an aircraft.
Deep in the forest, while the search-parties meticulously scoured the large wilderness area, Broderick explained how he took a determined decision, “I decided I simply had to survive.”
He was without cell-phone reception, with no means of calling for assistance. So, planning carefully, despite his fatigue and hunger, he decided his best course of action was to follow a particular river, down in the direction of its mouth to reach assistance.
After almost two full days, it was downstream in this river gorge, that Broderick was eventually located. He was spotted by a civilian helicopter pilot, Duran de Villiers, who had volunteered to join the combined rescue effort. The pilot alerted the Department of Health EMS/AMS helicopter team, who flew to the scene, located Broderick and hoisted him to safety. He was flown to hospital in Knysna and was later discharged.
WSAR manager for the Garden Route, Richard Botha, led the search as official incident commander and praised the massive search effort, by both the multiple services and volunteer organisations. The search and rescue teams had to contend with dense forest and precipitous gorges, as they combed the wilderness area.
Broderick’s wife, Gail, expressed "sincere gratitude" to the multiple teams who searched tirelessly for nearly 48 hours for her husband.
The AMS Rescue Helicopter busy with the hoist extraction video was filmed by Marc Rodgers from an aircraft piloted by Duran de Villiers.
WSAR launched a Summer Safety Campaign, #IAmWildernessSafe, urging lovers of the outdoors to help share the Emergency Contact Number: 021 937 0300. Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR) is a network of government agencies and civilian volunteer organisations, who partner in search and rescue.
Source: Wilderness Search and Rescue (WSAR)
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