District Mail

Lo­cal ad­ven­turer dies on a hike

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HER­MANUS – A well-known Her­manus res­i­dent died trag­i­cally while hik­ing in the Vo­gel­gat Pri­vate Na­ture Re­serve just out­side Her­manus.

It is be­lieved 75-year-old Gavin Turner was busy pho­tograph­ing black ea­gles when he fell off a cliff on Fri­day 31 July. Gior­gio Lombardi, War­den of Vo­gel­gat Pri­vate Na­ture Re­serve, says Turner was hik­ing with two friends when the tragedy oc­curred along Wash­ing­ton Ridge.

He said Turner’s friend John Dry im­me­di­ately went down the moun­tain­side to see what he could do while his wife Erna called Lombardi, who in turn alerted the Wat­son Moun­tain Res­cuers.

“The Wat­son Moun­tain Res­cuers were formed af­ter an­other hiker, David

Wat­son, died on one of the moun­tains of the re­serve last year,” Lombardi ex­plained. “It con­sists of a group of doc­tors and vol­un­teers.”

The Wilder­ness Search and Res­cue teams as well as Over­strand Fire and Res­cue teams also re­sponded. “When they re­alised it would be risky for vol­un­teers to re­trieve the re­mains, the chop­per was called in to as­sist,” said Lombardi. He added ea­gles were seen cir­cling above the spot where Turner landed af­ter he fell.

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in the min­ing in­dus­try, Turner and his wife Cyn­thia re­tired to greater Her­manus from Jo­han­nes­burg in 2001, and made On­rus their new home. He was soon ac­tively in­volved in var­i­ous clubs and so­ci­eties, re­sult­ing in a close cir­cle of friends made up from the run­ning, cy­cling, bird­ing, pho­to­graphic, hik­ing, cos­mol­ogy and U3A clubs.

Turner’s ad­ven­tur­ous spirit led him on ex­pe­di­tions to the Antarc­tic, hik­ing to Ever­est Base Camp, trekking through Pak­istan or six-week over­land trips through­out South­ern Africa.

He was also an ac­com­plished ath­lete who com­pleted 11 Com­rades Marathons and 21 Two Oceans Ul­tra­ma­rathons.

Turner’s son Matt said the fam­ily will al­ways re­mem­ber him as some­one who never gave up on his dreams. “He gave us the con­fi­dence al­ways to stand up for what is fair and just, and taught us that noth­ing in life is more im­por­tant than fam­ily and friends. Our dad will be best re­mem­bered for be­ing wise and coura­geous, in­flu­enc­ing so may lives in a quiet and gen­tle way.”

In a Face­book post the Whalers

Ath­letic Club paid trib­ute to Turner, who was re­spon­si­ble for the club’s Two

Oceans and Com­rades train­ing. “Gavin was one of the key fig­ures on the Satur­day morn­ing long run,” it said, “and, come rain or shine, he was sure to be there on time lead­ing the way.”

Fel­low run­ner Thomas Browne de­scribed Turner as “a man of the moun­tain and a moun­tain of a man”.

Capt Fadila Septem­ber, spokesper­son for Her­manus po­lice, said an in­quest docket had been opened to in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Turner’s death. “Covid-19 has made it dif­fi­cult to have the kind of send-off we’d like to have,” said Matt, “so we de­cided to post­pone the cel­e­bra­tion of his life un­til af­ter lock­down.”

 ??  ?? Gavin Turner pho­tograph­ing birds dur­ing a trip to the Zam­bezi with his wife Cyn­thia.
Gavin Turner pho­tograph­ing birds dur­ing a trip to the Zam­bezi with his wife Cyn­thia.

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