Crash or collision
Queenstown, New Zealand
Posted on May 12, 2020 by Katie
I was hunting with a mate and we were closing the distance on a very nice chamois buck. As we sidled along a steep hillface I slipped on some snow grass/tussock (native NZ grass) and started sliding down the hill and picking up speed. I was unable to self-arrest and the next thing I knew I was airborne and free-fell 20m down a rock crevasse from an earthquake faultline that I didn’t even realize was there down the hill from us. Thankfully I blacked out on the way down and do not remember the impact.
When my mate got down to where I was he thought I was a goner as I was crumpled up into a ball and wedged between rocks, leg bent in half behind me, head under my chest, not breathing and turning blue. I started gasping for air when he turned my head but was still unconscious for another 7 minutes. He dug my PLB out of my pack, got me into a more comfortable position and went to the top of the crevasse to set off the beacon. He had an inReach mini and used that to send an SOS message as well. Both messages were received by the NZ Rescue Coordination Centre and they called my emergency contact at home to make sure it wasn’t a false alarm and to ask her questions about myself and what I was up to.
The local helicopter company arrived first after about 45 minutes with a St John’s first responder and administered pain relief and emergency first aid. They were able to call the search and rescue chopper and describe my predicament and recommend what equipment they would need to extract me. The search and rescue chopper arrived after about 2 hours and winched me out of the crevasse. I was then flown to the Dunedin hospital for thorough scanning and assessment.
I am the luckiest unlucky girl in the world to have survived the fall and got away in as good of shape as I did. My main injuries were 3 broken ribs, multiple fractured vertebrae, lacerated liver and concussion. The paramedics were expecting a corpse and told me to buy a lottery ticket!
Words of wisdom
I always used to carry my PLB at the bottom of my backpack but now I will always carry it strapped to my chest or otherwise very easily accessible in case I am immobilized. Always tell somebody (friend, family, housemate) what your trip intentions are. Try to maintain a decent level of fitness – the doctors reckon my fitness helped save my life in this accident.
Thank you note
THANK YOU! I will forever harass everyone I know to carry a PLB on outdoor excursions
Queenstown, New Zealand
Local Search and Rescue
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