What was intended to be a fun family outing with friends on Saturday for the Pretorius family from Howick, quickly turned into a nightmare just before they decided to go home for the day.
Family spokesperson Hermanus Scholtz told Maritzburg Sun that his brother-in-law Andre Pretorius had wanted to take pictures of people diving off the falls when the incident occurred.
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“He slipped and fell. When his wife Mar-Louise saw him falling, she quickly handed their three-year-old son Liam to a friend and ran to his aid with another friend. That is when she also lost her balance and fell into the falls. But if she hadn’t gotten to him on time, he would have had even more serious injuries,” said Scholtz.
Andre, 31, a civil company supervisor has been stabilised but is still sedated while Mar-Louise, 29, a part-time teacher is recovering well. Both are in the Intensive Care Unit at the Medi-Clinic Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
Scholtz continued: “Andre has a fractured skull, damage to his lungs, and internal bleeding while Mar-Louise suffered a head injury, bruises, and cuts to her face. We believe both Andre and Mar-Louise will make a full recovery. Their son is currently being taken care of by Mar-Louise’s parents.”
Describing Andre as a people’s person who often helped schools and other organisations with general repairs when required, Scholtz said he was also a health-conscious and fit person who had a positive outlook on life.
“We have faith that he will make a full recovery, despite not knowing the full extent of his injuries at this point. What happened to Andre and Mar-Louise can only be described as a freak accident,” said Scholtz.
He said they were grateful to all those who were going out of their way to raise funds to assist the couple with medical bills, as they do not have medical aid.
“We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the community. Friends, a restaurant owner, Facebook groups from Nigel and Hermanus have all embarked on crowd-funding initiatives to help Andre and Mar-Louise with their medical bills. We also want to thank every person who assisted with the rescue and who waited until they were taken to hospital. My faith in humanity was once lost but the support and love from people is just mind-blowing. To the emergency service’s teams who rescued Mar-Louise and Andre – thank you – we can never repay them. They put their own lives in danger to save others.”
Midlands Emergency Services, the PMB Search and Rescue unit, were kitted with an advanced life support unit and dispatched to the scene at around 4pm.
On arrival at the falls, both husband and wife were found at the base of the waterfall after members of the public pulled the couple out of the water.
The couple was eventually hoisted out of the falls using a rope system put in place by members of the PMB Search and Rescue.
Anyone wanting to assist the Pretorius family can do so through the Andre and Mar-Louise Relief Fund, FNB, acc no: 62784882435, cheque account, Howick, branch code 220725 or for email: firstname.lastname@example.org