Fatality at Wentworth Falls

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Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby jrg » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 10:36 am

SMH is reporting that a bushwalker tragically died near Wentworth Falls following a rockfall:
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/aut ... 580lj.html

Anyone know whereabouts this occurred? NPWS has no incident reports and the media reports just say "remote bushland"?
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 1:17 pm

I've got no knowledge of the incident, but there has been a helicopter operation around Blue Drum Ck today. A chopper has been repeatedly flying out there and circling the area. I think it's a reasonable assumption that this may be part of the rescue / body recovery operation. If so, there's a bushwalking pass just to the north of the creek, along with an abseiling / canyoning route down the south branch.

As to your question about NPWS not providing an incident report, this is normal. I don't think I've ever seen them provide details of a rescue operation. They are not the primary rescue agency. In the Blue Mountains, these kinds of rescues are generally run by Blue Mountains Police Rescue, with support from NSW Ambulance. Sometimes there are additional resources from the SES (especially the Bush Search and Rescue team), RFS, and others agencies. Given Blue Mountains Police Rescue averages one callout a day, and most of those never get reported on, the current lack of information is actually the norm.

Police may provide more information to the media, or on social media, but I wouldn't count on it. Given this is a fatality, so will require a formal investigation, I wouldn't expect them to release many details when they're still trying to piece together what has lead to this man's death.
Last edited by FatCanyoner on Sun 13 Jun, 2021 1:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 1:21 pm

As a follow-up, if my speculation as to the accident location is correct, that would indicate this is likely an experienced group. The Blue Drum Creek area is not one that gets general tourists. It's off-track and challenging. In that case, there's every likelihood the people involved will be known to some people on this forum. Given that, it's best not to get drawn into too much speculation, as they will be going through an extremely difficult time.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby keithj » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 4:24 pm

https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/news has a report of completion of recovery operation at Blue Drum Creek.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 4:33 pm

NSW Police have issued the statement below.

It confirms that the incident occurred at Blue Drum Creek. It also suggests the deceased man fell. That is different to the media reports which said a rock had fallen on him. It's still unclear exactly what they were doing, but I assume if they were canyoners the police would have said they were abseiling or canyoning. That suggests they were likely using the bushwalking passes, either down the creek or just to the north. Some good detail about this area is available here: http://www.jamisonproject.org/passes/blue-drum-creek

Hiker's body recovered following fall - Blue Mountains

A man’s body has been recovered following a fall in the Blue Mountains yesterday.
About 2.45pm (Saturday 12 June 2021), emergency services were called to Tableland Road, Wentworth Falls, after reports a man had been seriously injured after a fall.
Police have been told the 60-year-old was hiking with a group at the time of the incident.
Officers from Police Rescue and the NSW Ambulance Special Operations Unit attended and commenced a rescue operation.
With assistance from PolAir, a man’s body was located at Blue Drum Creek. Paramedics declared him deceased at the scene.
About 3pm today (Sunday 13 June 2021), the man’s body was recovered.
A report will be prepared for the Corner.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 4:35 pm

Sorry for doubling up Keith! I didn't see you'd already posted the police report.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby jrg » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 5:04 pm

Thanks for the information everyone. I certainly didn't want to speculate, I was just interested where this had occurred. My condolences to the family of the deceased man.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 7:14 pm

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article based on information from the leader of the trip. It provides some further information about the man who tragically died, Jack Chen, along with a little more insight into what happened. Based on the description, they were bushwalking upstream of Blue Drum Falls when Jack slipped and fell, initially onto a small ledge, then a further 5 or 6 metres.

‘He always brought joy’: Hiker’s body recovered after Blue Mountains fall
By Josh Dye and Carrie Fellner
https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/aut ... 580lj.html

A man who died after falling from a cliff while bushwalking in a remote part of the Blue Mountains on Saturday has been remembered as “a good person” who brought joy to his fellow hikers.

Jack Chen, 60, died after plunging five metres onto a ledge as he was attempting to scramble up a section of rock on a remote trail at Blue Drum Creek, about 20 kilometres south of Wentworth Falls.

JackChen.jpg


The tragedy occurred about 2.20pm but it took police and paramedics more than 24 hours to recover Mr Chen’s body due to the remoteness of the area.

Experienced bushwalker Alan Chan, who was leading the group of eight hikers, said he was “very sad” about the incident.

“[Jack] was a very good person. He always brought joy to us,” Mr Chan said.

“He’s the person that makes things go smoother.

“He’d just follow you. Those are the people you want to have in the team.

“I’ve walked with him multiple times. His fitness was good for his age – he was able to walk better than the average adult.”

Mr Chan had already ascended the section of the track where Mr Chen fell – about 450 metres upstream of Blue Drum Falls – when the other walkers called out.

Mr Chan raced up the track to find phone reception and said he had to call triple zero several times because coverage was patchy.

Three hours later a helicopter arrived and Mr Chan led three paramedics down to Mr Chen’s body, but he had already died after sustaining severe head injuries.

NSW Police Rescue officers and paramedics from NSW Ambulance’s special operations unit began a delicate recovery but suspended the mission until Sunday morning.

“The way he was climbing was an overhang angle [but] he wasn’t able to get a good footing,” Mr Chan said.

“The initial ledge he fell from was only one metre but the further lower ledge was more like five or six metres below.”

Mr Chan and the six other hikers walked to safety in the dark, reaching their cars about 8.30pm.

The walk was the first part of three-day hike the group was embarking on before tragedy struck. The Sunday and Monday hikes were cancelled.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby puredingo » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 7:41 pm

Gee. 5 meters, doesn’t take much. Poor bloke....best wishes to all who knew him.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 7:48 pm

puredingo wrote:Gee. 5 meters, doesn’t take much.


It can take a lot less. I remember, many years ago in a past job, an apprentice who died after falling about 0.5m off a stepladder. If you hit your head the wrong way, even a very small drop can be deadly. I think most of us are more careful when there's a big drop below us, but can get a little casual on the small stuff.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby north-north-west » Sun 13 Jun, 2021 8:05 pm

I've fallen that distance or more, more than once, and survived. There's a lot of luck involved.
"Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens."
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby wildwanderer » Tue 15 Jun, 2021 1:11 pm

Sad to hear. RIP
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby alanchan1024 » Sat 26 Jun, 2021 8:02 pm

Dear all, I was the leader of this walk. It was a 4km loop walk that was planned to finish in about 5-7 hours on Saturday 12 June 2021.

This was a bushwalk. Not an abseil or rock climbing activity. We did have ropes but we only used it for safety purposes.

After going through all the emotionally difficult time, I came across this post today. I have attached our route map for the day. The walk started at the tiny carpark at Harris Hill, we first climbed the hill, then followed a gully down to the North Arm of Blue Drum Creek and walked (it was trickier than a walk) downstream to (the top of) Blue Drum Falls. We had lunch at the platform overlooking the falls, then went for a short return trip to a vantage point right next to the "slightly exposed" section noted from the Jamison track note (notice that in the morning we didn't go down via the steep gully descent as per their note - Holbeach's Indent - this gully descent was meant to be coupled with Spring Creek Ridge Pass ascent on another separate walk on 14 June - but it was cancelled due to the accident on 12th)

The accident happened right after we left the South Arm of Blue Drum Creek, some 450m upstream of Blue Drum Falls, at 2:20pm. I wouldn't go too much detail on it though. But I have revisited the site the week after (Saturday 19 June 2021) and placed a bouquet there. No gears is required to reach the site from Harris Hill following the ridge and the pass down (you may follow the Jamison track notes backwards) - and I was holding the bouquet walking down not a problem.

I turned on my location at the site and noted the co-ordinate of -33.841673, 150.400310. This is the location of the cliff, and the bouquet was placed at the base of the cliff.

RIP Jack Chen. You will be forever loved and remembered. The beautiful moments you shared will always be in our hearts.

Alan Chan

P.S. I also noted a business site that does walk tours. They wrote an article on their site regarding this accident, with a number of incorrect assumptions and information. They refused to amend or remove the content, which is very frustrating.
https://naturetrail.com.au/blog-post/bu ... rum-creek/
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20210612x3.png
Route map of Blue Drum Creek walk on 12 Jun 2021
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby thoyeabout » Sat 26 Jun, 2021 10:22 pm

Thanks for the factual details Alan.
No doubt a very hard time for you and the group.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby jrg » Mon 28 Jun, 2021 6:04 pm

My condolences to you Alan and to you group for the loss of your friend.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby michael_p » Mon 28 Jun, 2021 8:36 pm

Alan,

Thank you for let us know what happened. Condolences to you and the family and friends of Alan.

Regards,
Michael.
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Re: Fatality at Wentworth Falls

Postby FatCanyoner » Thu 01 Jul, 2021 8:09 am

Alan, thanks for sharing that additional information. I'm sure everyone on the forum is feeling for you currently. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have a friend die on a bushwalking trip. Hopefully you and the rest of your group are receiving plenty of support from friends and family to get through this.

As for the article on the Nature Trail site, I am really sorry you have endured that. The author, Steve Ridd, wrote something similar at the start of the year following the tragic deaths of two people on a lilo trip on the Wollangambe River.

Steve runs a commercial tour operation business. Based on his previous articles, it is clear he has a view that any outdoor adventure that is more challenging than a signposted, maintained track, should only be undertaken with a commercial guide. He doesn't believe bushwalking clubs or private recreational groups should be allowed to undertake canyoning, abseiling, or off-track bushwalking trips.

Having read many of his posts, I can assure you that this is not the first time he has used incorrect information to try and strengthen his arguments. It seems his mind is firmly made up. I would suggest that there is no point engaging with him as he is unlikely to change what he wrote.

Just remember, the overwhelming majority of bushwalkers do not think the way he does. Try not to let what he wrote get to you.
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