Broke his neck and legs while hunting

  • Here is a good example of ALWAYS being safty conscious no matter how skilled you are => > You wouldn’t read about it…. Till now! > It all started with an 8 hour drive and a Auckland airport pickup (Aussie). Followed by three days of torrential rain. We thought our luck had turned when the weather broke for a brief moment turning our cuppa with Chris Crosse (East Kaweka Helicopters) into a frantic dash to get our gear into the chopper. We were off into Kaweka Ranges. > We unpacked our packs and made ourselves at home in the hut which was going to be home for the next 4 days. We had enough daylight for a quick recon hunt behind the hut, as the rivers surrounding the hut were in flood. We made plans to update our positions on the Garmin handhelds every hour so we could see where each other was and to be back at the hut by dark. > Scotty and I went up towards the Harkness and Aussie went up the ridge behind the hut. Quietly stalking through the bush we saw lots of fresh sign, but with it still raining we made plans for the stalk the following morning and headed back to camp before dark. Scotty and I were half way through cooking our dinner when we got a radio call through the Garmin that no hunter or tramper ever wants to hear “mate, you there? I’ve fallen and I’m hurt pretty bad”. Oh f*#k were the first thoughts. > Not knowing how bad he was we grabbed the PLB, first aid kit, food, water and extra clothes. Jackets and headlamps on, it was off into the darkness of the rain soaked bush not knowing what to expect. > Thank god for the Garmin Rhino GPS radios as without these we wouldn’t have been able to locate Aussie as he had fallen 40m down a mossy bluff and ended up 5m away from the raging waters of the flooded river. > We located him in the dark from the river by sighting his head torch. The only way to access him was to backtrack and go up the ridge behind the hut and approach from the upstream side of where he lay. Navigating those cliffs in the dark made it feel like hours had passed. Also being extra careful as if another one of us were to fall we would be in serious trouble. At one point I found where the track Aussie was walking on had given way which led to his vertical slide to the rivers edge. > Finally at 7:30pm we found him, the first sight of him will never leave our memories, as his legs were in a contorted position and he was not moving. > Assessing his injuries, our biggest concern was his injured neck. He also had a sprained ankle, a deep cut to his hand and was in the first stages of hypothermia. Seeing where he fell from we were surprised he hadn’t broken more bones. We weren’t sure how bad his neck was so we were careful not to move him too much. It was time to activate the PLB, as there was no way to get him out. Especially where we just came from to get to him. We thought of trying to float him down the river, but it was in flood and far too dangerous for all of us. > 2 hours had passed since we activated the PLB and it dawned on us that due to the rain and nightfall we would be spending the night here. Attempts at starting a fire in the rain failed and with snow falling earlier in the day the temperature was plummeting. At 10pm the call was made that one of us had to go back to the hut to get more dry clothes, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and a fly. > 2 am I finally arrived back at the scene with a big pack full of extra supplies. Aussie’s condition was getting worse as the regular groans of pain had given way to silence. The uncontrollable shivering had stopped and his skin had lost all colour. He was in the next stage of hypothermia. We stripped his wet clothes off and replaced them with dry ones which were mostly our own. Keeping somewhat dry from a fly cut from a pup tent we slid Aussie into a sleeping bag and rolled him onto a foam mat to keep him off the cold wet ground. Our own safety was now in question as our clothes were wet and cold. With only a couple more hours till daylight we kept positive, completing sets of squats and push ups to keep warm with the odd spoon chucked in as well. > Waking at 7:30am after 1 hour sleep, it was still raining and Aussie was silent, but still alive. It had been light for about 30mins when the relieving sound of a chopper came thumping down the valley, but it flew straight past us and landed at the hut. During my midnight stroll back to the hut I left a note describing where to find us, so within another 5minutes we had the rescue chopper hovering above us, winching Aussie to safety. > The next day the wether cleared and we were picked up by our chopper. We caught up with Aussie at Rotorua Hospital. Discharged with 2 broken vertebrae in his neck and in a brace we drove him back to Auckland where his wife was waiting to see him, however it didn’t stop there. We had to go straight to Middlemore as his cut on his hand was badly infected and he hadn’t been given any antibiotics. > Three weeks later back in Melbourne, Aussie had an appointment with a neck specialist. After looking at the x-rays, the specialist was shocked that Aussie was alive let alone walking as not only were the 2 vertebrae fractured but one was dislocated and was putting pressure on the spinal cord. The specialist said he was one sneeze away from death. So emergency surgery saw his fractured vertebrae fused and wired together. > I want to stress that when going into the outdoors you must be prepared for the worst and have the right gear, as the outcome to this story could’ve been a whole lot worse if we had not had the correct gear for that situation. If you go into the outdoors for any reason and you do not have a PLB I suggest you get one, as these are life savers. > I just want to say a big thank you to Stoney Creek who replaced my puffer jacket that got cut off Aussie in the ED, Chris Crosse from East Kaweka Helicopters (I think we made it into his top 3 fastest trips), KTI (who replaced the battery in my PLB for free), the Taupo Green Lea Rescue helicopter and crew and the Hastings Police who coordinated everything > The gear that got player of the day and that I will never leave behind was; > Stoney Creek Puffer jacket > Stoney Creek Tundra jacket > LED Lenser H14.2R headlamp > KTI PLB > Garmin Rhino GPS radio
    This post has been edited by the author on 13 October 2018 at 13:25.
  • First read of this in the newspaper. Well done to all concerned and for the preparedness of the crew out for a hunt.
  • Those Garmin Rhino GPS's sound like a game changer.
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Forum The campfire
Started by Exilr
On 13 October 2018
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