MBOMBELA – According to ER24 branch manager Kim Habib, Kelvin van Baalen (21) sustained second- and third-degree burns over 50 per cent of his body.
Van Baalen, an experienced paraglider, had entered the Barberton Paragliding Open, which was held over seven days from June 24 to Saturday.
The competition was hosted by the Lowveld Slope Soaring Club.
Anton Naudé, one of the organisers of the event, said Van Baalen was a good pilot. “He was leading at the time in his task when he hit the power lines.”
The accident happened in a valley between Agnes Gold Mine and Barberton.
Habib said Van Baalen was still conscious when they got there and in terrible pain. “He said he had gotten too near the power lines and his parachute hit them and caught fire. The grass below him caught fire from sparks, which then made his clothes catch alight.”
READ MORE HERE: BREAKING NEWS: Paraglider severely burned in freak accident
She added that when they found him, he was completely naked as his clothes had burned to cinders.
“We treated him with advanced life-support interventions. We transported him to Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, where he was airlifted with our ER24 helicopter to Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.”
His father, Douglas van Baalen, confirmed that his son was still in a critical condition in hospital. “His vitals are strong. His kidneys were damaged and his urine was black for awhile, but it has cleared up now.”
On Monday morning he was going into theatre for an operation, and at the time of going to press the outcome was not known.
“We are hoping and we will keep praying for him. We have to stay positive for him,” concluded Douglas.