The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was dispatched at 2 am on Friday 26 January to a young man in his early twenties who had fallen 70 metres down near vertical cliff, stopping short of plunging into the Rangatikei River at Vinegar Hill Reserve.
The man is believed to have left the road above the river and climbed over a fence where he has then slipped and tumbled down the cliff through bush.
A landing site for the rescue helicopter was secured by Fire & Emergency NZ who were at the scene, along with St John’s and NZ Police. Due to the darkness, emergency services were unable to determine the man’s exact location, although he could be heard calling across the river.
Initialy the Fire Service forged the river to try to pinpoint the man’s location and attempt to climb up to him, but due to the nature of the terrain, they were unable to get close enough to accurately identify his location. A subsequent attempt to locate the man by shining a spotlight in his direction and getting him to call out allowed his general position to be located.
The rescue helicopter was then tasked to search for the man and accurately identify where he was, the task was made extremely difficult due to the dense bush and trees on the cliff face. The rescue helicopter was almost about to call off the search when the man was finally spotted wedged in a rock chute.
A paramedic was winched down to the man to stablised him at his location. Twenty minutes later the rescue helicopter hoisted the man to safety. He was then provided further treatment at the nearby Reserve to stabilize him before being flown, with multiple injuries, to Palmerston North Hospital.