Table Mountain claims World Cup visitor
The death of a Texas teenager on Table Mountain has South
African officials warning tourists they need to understand the
risks that go with exploring their nation’s natural wonders.
One of Cape Town’s main tourist attractions, Table Mountain
provides a spectacular backdrop for the best of Africa’s
Yet the steep, wet paths cut through this rainforest show how
close the wild really is. Fifteen people died on the mountain last
year and nine already this year.
In the latest case, an unidentified Texan teen vacationing with
his family for the World Cup fell to his death Saturday while
hiking down the mountain.
Ranger Trevor Solomons said he got the first call of an
emergency at a little after 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, but by the
time he reached the scene it was already too late.
The 14-year-old American was lying in shallow water amid
rust-colored rocks at a bottom of a 35-foot crevice three-quarters
of the way up the mountain.
“He was already gone. There was nothing further that we could
do,” he said, standing next to a waterfall at the scene.
“It looked like he was actually leaning to look a little
further down on to the waterfall and then he lost his balance,”
said Solomons, the head of security for South Africa’s National
He warned all World Cup visitors to take heed that nature is
more fearsome here than photos and nature documentaries make it out
to be. “It is just a sign that says it can be dangerous in
Skeleton Gorge” where the accident occurred, Solomons said. “The
same (in) national parks where there are animals.”
Police spokesman Billy Jones said the teen, who was not
identified, his parents and a sibling had taken a cable car to the
top of the 3,563-foot (1,086-meter) landmark. They then walked down
along a known but dangerous route.
“Please take note that it is a DIFFICULT and POTENTIALLY
DANGEROUS climb, particularly in wet weather,” a sign says.
Underneath it were two skull-and-bones signs to make it perfectly
Yet every year, people will not be stopped, Solomons said.
On Sunday, details of the accident had not been made public.
“We have been in touch with the family throughout,” U.S.
Consulate spokesman Nathan Holt said. “We provided assistance. We
extend our deepest condolences to the family. We thank South
African authorities for all their assistance.”
Two officials, who both requested anonymity because the
information has not been released, said the family is from
One day after the accident, many tourists at Table Mountain were
oblivious to the tragedy that had happened there 24 hours
Capetonian Gideon Malherbe has been walking the Table Mountain
trails for 55 of his 65 years and still is stunned how easily some
of the 4.3 million visitors a year take risks.
“There were two young Americans going up there and that was
about 2:50 in the afternoon and planning to go all the way up to
the top of Table Mountain. And I told them the cable car may not be
operating when they get there because it is a cloudy day. But they
just carried on up.”
“There are danger signs all over” he said. “You just have to
follow the rules.”
Associated Press Writer Bradley S. Klapper contributed to this