Olympic champ Drysdale steps in to help injured tourist

By John Maslin

Olympic oarsman Mahe Drysdale turned international rescuer while on a tramp across the Tongariro Alpine crossing in Tongariro National Park.

Drysdale was instrumental in the rescue of a young Dutchman who had fallen and suffered a back injury while on the popular 19km walk which passes over the volcanic terrain of Mt Tongariro and the eastern base of Mt Ngauruhoe.

Drysdale was making the tramp on Monday with his partner Juliette Haigh and other international rowers, Olympic silver medallist Kim Crow from Australia and Swede Lassi Karonen. He said they came across another party of trampers on the track about 2pm.

"There were two parties of four but in one group a young Dutchman was in trouble. I reckon he was in his early 20s," Drysdale said.

"He had fallen and apart from some lacerations to his arms he was in considerable pain with a back injury."

He said some of the other trampers - all foreigners - had cellphones but were unsure who they should contact in an emergency.

"I used my phone to dial the *555 police number and they had a rescue helicopter on the scene within an hour."

Drysdale said while he waited with the injured Dutchman, the other three in his group continued up Mt Ngauruhoe.

"It was a beautiful day and we wanted them to see the views," he said.

Both he and Ms Haigh had done the crossing before so he said it was not unfamiliar territory for them.

"The bloke wasn't too flash when we arrived [but] his spirits had lifted ... by the time the chopper landed," he said.

Staff from Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter said in a statement they were called to Mt Ngauruhoe to help a 23-year-old man who had fallen while descending from the summit.

The man was slung from the mountain on a long line recovery system and taken to Rotorua Hospital with back injuries and significant grazing to much of his body.

The man was discharged yesterday.

After finishing the tramp Drysdale and his party headed back to Cambridge.

They were on the water at Lake Karapiro yesterday morning for a training session before taking Ms Crow and Karonen to Auckland to catch their flights home. - Wanganui Chronicle

- Rotorua Daily Post

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