Blue Mountains rockslide: National Parks contractor killed, two others airlifted

Police rescue officers near the site where a bushwalking track has collapsed. Photo: Wolter PeetersA 36-year-old National Parks contractor was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured when a rockslide at a Blue Mountains walking track fell from a 10-metre height on Wednesday.
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The three National Parks and Wildlife Service contractors were working to improve the safety of the National Pass walking track when they were hit, in an area which has been closed since August 31 “due to an identified risk of unstable sections of rock”.

The 36-year-old man died at the scene, where a crime scene has been established and where he will remain under police guard until his body can be recovered.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The two survivors, aged 26 and 27 were airlifted to hospital with multiple fractures on Wednesday afternoon, following a sensitive extraction.

In a statement the National Parks and Wildlife Service said “experienced contractors” were working to make safe the walking track between Valley of the Waters and Slack Stairs.

“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured,” NPWS said.

Emergency services first responded to reports of people injured in the rock fall around 11.40am, with critical care paramedics winched in to assess the patients and rescue teams from police and fire and rescue also on scene.

Officers from Blue Mountains Local Area Command, police rescue, Polair and National Parks and Wildlife Service were at the scene. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“It took about one hour for emergency responders to access the site,” said Superintendent Darryl Jobson on Wednesday afternoon.

Fifteen ambulance crews, three rescue helicopters and three Fire and Rescue crews responded to the incident, while a command post was established at the end of Falls Road.

One witness, Mike Burgess, told the ABC he was bushwalking below the remote walking track when he heard a “big explosion” that sounded “like dynamite going off”.

“But I knew it wouldn’t be dynamite, it would be a big slab,” he said.

“We heard all the blooming rocks smash down through the bush – right after that I heard a bloke scream. I’d say there were some pretty bad injuries down there.”

A man has died and two others are trapped after an accident at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Seven News

National Parks director David Crust said the matter was now under investigation, describing it as “a tragic event.”

SafeWork NSW has been notified about the incident.

Large rocks previously fell on the National Pass walking track at Wentworth Falls in November last year.

The track, a popular attraction for 90,000 visitors every year, was then closed on August 31.

The closure was prompted by further signs of increasing instability, which were revealed in an assessment by geo-technical engineers that identified a “dangerous, unstable section of rock above the walking track”.

“Falls of this nature occur throughout the park and the procedures are to help ensure the safety of everyone,” NPWS Blue Mountains acting area manager Arthur Henry said at the time.

Police asked members of the public to avoid the area. Photo: AAP

Police rescue officers near the site where a bushwalking track has collapsed. Photo: Wolter PeetersA 36-year-old National Parks contractor was killed and two of his colleagues seriously injured when a rockslide at a Blue Mountains walking track fell from a 10-metre height on Wednesday.
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The three National Parks and Wildlife Service contractors were working to improve the safety of the National Pass walking track when they were hit, in an area which has been closed since August 31 “due to an identified risk of unstable sections of rock”.

The 36-year-old man died at the scene, where a crime scene has been established and where he will remain under police guard until his body can be recovered.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

The two survivors, aged 26 and 27 were airlifted to hospital with multiple fractures on Wednesday afternoon, following a sensitive extraction.

In a statement the National Parks and Wildlife Service said “experienced contractors” were working to make safe the walking track between Valley of the Waters and Slack Stairs.

“Our condolences go to the family of the contractor who was killed and our thoughts are with the other members of the crew who were injured,” NPWS said.

Emergency services first responded to reports of people injured in the rock fall around 11.40am, with critical care paramedics winched in to assess the patients and rescue teams from police and fire and rescue also on scene.

Officers from Blue Mountains Local Area Command, police rescue, Polair and National Parks and Wildlife Service were at the scene. Photo: Wolter Peeters

“It took about one hour for emergency responders to access the site,” said Superintendent Darryl Jobson on Wednesday afternoon.

Fifteen ambulance crews, three rescue helicopters and three Fire and Rescue crews responded to the incident, while a command post was established at the end of Falls Road.

One witness, Mike Burgess, told the ABC he was bushwalking below the remote walking track when he heard a “big explosion” that sounded “like dynamite going off”.

“But I knew it wouldn’t be dynamite, it would be a big slab,” he said.

“We heard all the blooming rocks smash down through the bush – right after that I heard a bloke scream. I’d say there were some pretty bad injuries down there.”

A man has died and two others are trapped after an accident at Wentworth Falls. Photo: Seven News

National Parks director David Crust said the matter was now under investigation, describing it as “a tragic event.”

SafeWork NSW has been notified about the incident.

Large rocks previously fell on the National Pass walking track at Wentworth Falls in November last year.

The track, a popular attraction for 90,000 visitors every year, was then closed on August 31.

The closure was prompted by further signs of increasing instability, which were revealed in an assessment by geo-technical engineers that identified a “dangerous, unstable section of rock above the walking track”.

“Falls of this nature occur throughout the park and the procedures are to help ensure the safety of everyone,” NPWS Blue Mountains acting area manager Arthur Henry said at the time.

Police asked members of the public to avoid the area. Photo: AAP