Local adventurer dies on a hike
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.”