Houston teen dies in fall on SAfrica's Table Mountain

Hugo Vaughan with Wilderness Search and Rescue coordinated the response effort after an American 14-year-old from Houston fell about 30 feet to his death while hiking down Table Mountain, one of Cape Town's main tourist attractions.

June 13, 2010 8:19:55 PM PDT
There's new information about a 14-year-old Houston boy who fell from a mountain on vacation halfway around the world. Emergency crews say the popular tourist spot where he died is treacherous. Investigators say the boy was in South Africa with his family for the World Cup.

Behind the mist is Table Mountain, one of Capetown's leading tourist attractions. It soars 3,500 feet above sea level, and its hiking paths are so steep that ladders form part of the route.

It was near one of those ladders that on Saturday a 14-year-old Houston boy fell 30 feet to his death. He was walking with his younger brother while his parents following behind.

"For me, it looked like he was leaning to look a little further onto the waterfall, and there, he lost his balance," said Trevor Solomons, head of park security.

There was rain in the park Saturday, which makes the dirt and stone pathways perilously slick. The boy fell to the rocks beside one of the park's waterfalls near a place known as Skeleton Gorge.

Park rangers are investigating the accident.

We spoke to Hugo Vaughan by phone on Sunday. He was one of those rescuers who responded.

A Red Cross helicopter airlifted a medical team to the site.

"The doctor declared the young man deceased and then we returned his body," Vaughan said. "And it's very sad, really."

The family was said to be in South Africa for the World Cup. Now they're flying home.

Park rangers say there are some 100 rescue calls a year from Table Mountain. Fifteen people died while climbing in the park last year.

The Houston teen's death is the ninth so far this year.

The boy is reported to be an HISD high school student. His family boarded a plane to return to Houston Sunday night.

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